I was never a gangly teenager. Sure, I was awkward, and unsure, and brash, but never gangly. My husband, however, was very gangly. While I never knew him in that time, I see pictures that go from boyish bowl cuts to all neck with a protruding adam’s apple in the span of one school year. We’ve all been around those junior high and high school students who sprouted up overnight and no longer know the reach of their arm, the tone of their voice, or the nature of their gate. They’re tall, thin, sparse, and so awkward. While I had my suspicions after London, Oxford, and Paris, Frankopan sealed our fate for me as a gangly, teenage America.
Frankopan, in The Silk Roads, set before him the yeoman’s task of tracing the history of the bridge between the east and the west, proving the point time after time, that in the West, we have an incredibly one-sided view of history. I’ll be honest, the history that Frankopan defends in earnest, is not a history I am familiar with. It’s a history that goes for three-fifths of 650 pages before getting to my country. And while I’m not completely ignorant of life outside of and prior to the discovery of the land mass later to become the United States, I’ll admit that I’m not as well-versed as I should be. My guess is that I am not alone in my inferior knowledge of pre-1492 history, and Frankopan did a good job of putting my education in it’s place. Learning about the spine of Asia and the way it’s supported the rest of our world for centuries, coupled with seeing other global cities (albeit still Western cities) up close the last few weeks, reminded me that we may not be as far along as we think we are, America. I think we’re in the gangly teenager phase. From oil, to fashion, to computer parts, it’s obvious that the Silk Roads are re-emerging in ways that help Western countries like mine, remember our place in the world. The way we’ve viewed ourselves as the penultimate nation, much like the gangly, often self-centered teenager views themselves in their household, has to change if we are going to grow and mature. Power is shifting, and our epitome of gangly teenage leadership we have in this country, is tipping the balance into the hands of the East faster and faster.
I wonder what we are to do? My guess is to give it time. Although it feels like we have less and less of it, time is what brings growth and maturity. Time is what helps us move from awkward and unrefined, to grounded and articulate. I look at my husband today and don’t see bowl cuts and cracking voices – but I see a man who is sure of himself and his place in the world. He maintains a solid foundation and knows that is a citizen of both America and the Kingdom of Heaven. He understands that he has power, but he also willingly lays it down for the sake of his God, his marriage, his children, and so many others. He’s moved past is physical awkwardness to a strength that comes from within. I think what we need is time – time to develop and mature into a new phase. One that is marked by understanding our strength, but maintains a desire to lay it down for the good of those around us. I just hope we have some time left.
 Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (New York, NY: First Vintage Books Edition, 2017), Loc. 199.
 Ibid., 517.