As today is Columbus Day, I woke up this morning recalling a particular Columbus Day when a good friend of mine and I decided to pursue a dream. I say, “pursue” with a chuckle in my mind as our dream was really just a wish that had no formidable plan behind it. Honestly, it was not even realistic or practical. Yet, we were committed to making our dream come true.
The days before the holiday when we would have the day off from school, we talked about what we were going to do that day… almost incessantly. Mind you, we were each 13 years old and freshman in high school. The year was 1971. Definitely simpler and more innocent times. Safer, as well.
Our goal was to meet girls from a European country at the United Nations! We would get up early and trek into Manhattan from Staten Island and visit the United Nations. Keep in mind, the U.N. was open to the public. I recall being able to sit in on meetings and listen in on the discussions as they were translated in real time. We did visit often.
Anyway, on this particular day our commitment to our dream was steadfast. As the activity at the U.N. would be extra busy due to it being a holiday weekend, we truly felt our dream would come true. Would it be girls from Hungary? Germany? Spain? Italian would be nice as we were both from Italian families.
On the Staten Island ferry, we talked about our “ dream” girls. We knew they’d most likely have dark hair. Of course, they would be pretty — correction, gorgeous. Exotic, too. At least in the minds of 13 year-olds, right? They’d be our age so we assumed they’d be dressed much like the girls we knew.
We even thought about their names. Olga, Heidi and Isabel are ones that I remember the most. If the girls were Italian, we just assumed their names would be similar to the girls in our families. Oh to have such naivety and innocence again!
Our dream was real. Yet, I don’t believe either one of us believed, truly believed our common dream would come true. I say that now as we really never discussed the what ifs or even the obstacles that now seemed so evident.
How would we talk with them with only elementary Spanish as our only foreign language skillset? As the girls would most likely be with their families, how would we even be able to approach them? What would be the likelihood of two girls together with both being our age? And if we did get past these hurdles, where would we take the girls? Especially, since neither of us had more than five dollars in our pockets!
The dream was just the possibility, as remote as it might be of actually meeting these girls and truth be told, even just an exchange of smiles would have been considered a success.
We spent the day at the U.N. We sat in on various meetings. We saw who we knew to be foreign dignitaries and ambassadors by their clothes, some traditional to their country, and their name badges, many with names we couldn’t even begin to pronounce. We marveled at the formality of it all. And the flags both inside and outside the building!
Our dream may not have come true that day, but I will never forget that splendid day, a dream in and of itself. I’m thankful that we pursued our dream as how many other dreams are remembered and still bring a smile to our faces after fifty years?
Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count! And may all your dreams come true!
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