My first car was a Citroën, circa 1948, the one you see in French film noir. I owned this car on the island of Rhodes, in 1963–64. I am still in love with the girl who I seduced (or who seduced me) in the sand beside this car’s wheels. We were both 20 when I bought it. I was teaching school in order to fulfill my military obligation. I sold the car after I fell off the roof of the National Museum of Art and broke my foot in the sculpture garden. I got 60 days, and banishment from the old city of Rhodes for life. I spent what might have been my honeymoon in confinement.
Today, the woman who was the girl in that first car and I are in constant touch, thanks to email. Rhodes has become the place where I still feel most at home. I live there when I can. The car came to America on a ship that broadcast the Voice of America to the Middle East back then. It was so black that it must have had more paint than steel. It was strong enough to pull a house off its foundation.
When I first lived on the island, this car was only one of about 50 on the entire island. We had no TV. Electricity in many villages went out at 9 pm. When the President of the United States of America was assassinated, the entire island came out in candle–lit parades and mourned.
I want America to be as loved as it was when I owned my first car. I want for us to find a President who means as much to the world as he (or she) means to his (or her) own family and friends. I want to feel as an American as I felt when I drove my first car around Greece in 1963. I want my daughters to feel as free and welcome in the world as I was when I bought my first car, half way around the world from my home. It was so easy and natural to be an American. We were citizens of the world. Everyone was welcome in America, and Americans were welcome (almost) everywhere.
When I bought my first (French) car (in Greece) I felt (as an American boy) like I was a part of the world.
Originally posted October, 2004