May 29- Book #446 and a Drawing With Two Trees
On a Train On a Ferry On the Sea
Riding the train from Hamburg to Copenhagen, in the middle of a nice dream, I wake up to an English accent saying, “We’ve got to get off the train! We’re on a ferry!” She was one of many confused passengers. “Did you know we were getting on a ferry?” “No, did you?” “Why do we have to get off?” Tim and I were both sleeping, so we weren’t able to provide any answers. And we were too tired to think of any questions of our own.
The train was parked in the cargo area, with a bus on one side and a two-foot walkway on the other. A strange experience when you’re not expecting it. A strange experience if you were expecting it. Tim and I exited out opposite doors, and ended up not seeing each other until we got back onboard.
We were told to be back in forty-five minutes. Still half asleep, I took the elevator to the top floor hoping that a sea breeze would be there to slap me in the face––to prove that I was no longer dreaming. And only reality could make such a happy wind.
Walking around on the top deck, I saw a group of six guys, and I thought I heard them speaking Swedish. I wasn’t entirely sure. I was curious to know if I was correct in distinguishing the difference between Swedish and Danish, but I didn’t want to insult them by being wrong. Leaving myself a margin for error, I said, “Excuse me. Can I ask where you guys are from?”
“Sweden,” half of them said at the same time.
Dammit, I should’ve guessed! Now, I have to come up with a different reason for asking so they don’t know that I couldn’t tell the difference.
“Where are you from?” said the man closest to me. Whew! My stupidity can remain a secret.
“Montana, in the U.S.”
“The U.S. So tell me, what do you think of Trump?”
“Ha. I get asked that question a lot. I usually say: I’ve never met anyone who likes him, but apparently there are a ton of people who do. Many of us think his ideas are crazy, and dangerous for the rest of the world. It’s really scary. I feel like a lot of his supporters are people who have never traveled outside of the U.S.; or never travelled outside their state, or hometown, or beyond the manger in the barn where they were conceived…” I spouted out a bit of a rant, which is strange for me because I would normally rather talk about people than politicians. That’s one of the great things about Europe. Over here, you can actually have a conversation instead of an I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I-
We talked for the entire ferry ride. “I’m curious,” he said. “It seems many Americans want to know their ancestry––we have a program in Sweden that helps Americans connect with their relatives. It’s so interesting to watch. They get very emotional. They cry. They care so much about their roots. But I don’t understand how they can want to close the borders when they know their relatives had one time crossed those same borders.”
“Attention, Ladies and Gentlemen,” an announcement came over the speaker. “The ferry will arrive in five minutes.”
We could have talked for hours. Walking to the elevators, I said, “I wish we had more time. I’m working on a project that’s very similar to what we’ve been talking about. It’s about generosity and connecting with random strangers. I think if more people did this, there would be less discrimination and less hatred in the world.” I gave them a book and a piece of art. “I’m sorry I don’t have one for everyone. But please know that my appreciation and respect is for all of you.”
The gifts circulated around. The oldest of the group decided that Erik and Patrik, the youngest, should keep them. He thanked me and, as we said goodbye, said, “We hope America makes the right decision. It matters to the rest of the world. Because you are electing the commander of the most powerful army in history. We do not have a choice in your election, but we all have to live with your decision.”