The CUNY citizenship prep classes are held on top of the Herald Square station just one stop from my apartment, so naturally, I taxied there lest my silk pants get soiled.
Beth, the instructor, met us in the hall to pass out maps of the United States, the mastery of which she explained would only make the students feel less like Americans.
This time, I was paired with a Dominican woman who has lived in New York for the past 23 years. Why she was compelled to pursue an American passport after all these years, she wouldn’t say, and our hour began wholly uneventfully.
History and government were two of my favorite subjects in school, and I can safely say without fear of exaggeration that, at one time, I could hold my own with the best of them. I mean, I flatter myself to think I could be a contender on Jeopardy.
To my disgust, I struggled to recall the details of basic historical legislation like the 3/5 Compromise, and attempted to compensate by teaching Maria to sing the fifty states in alphabetical order.
The session ran over, and I was forced to exit through an ongoing debate as to the merits of taking the scheduled holiday for Lincoln’s birthday the following Saturday.
My two designer friends were already waiting at brunch, one toting python skin samples for her new line of handbags, and the other fanning the mock-ups for her fall lookbook across the table. We oohed and aahed over her velvet dresses and shearling coats – reasonably priced at under $1,000 – before going our separate ways, each too busy that Saturday to linger for even a cup of coffee.
I hopped the puddles pooling outside, wondering at the American dream, and whether any of us really have it figured out.