I mean, we haven’t talked about Sarah Palin for awhile. SIKE.
An easy conversation piece for someone who meets me here is about where they have travelled to in the United States. This goes for British, South Africans, Australians, Kiwis, Europeans from the Continent… Of course people like to hear where I’m from and then want to say where they have been in my homeland.
I would say 9 out of 10 have not been to New York or LA. Many have just been to Florida. I am always surprised. I don’t know why. For a country the size of England, it makes sense that almost every tourist spends at least some time in London. In a country with the population of Australia, it makes sense that most visitors would have stopped in Sydney.
But where is the must-go-to location in the U.S.? I would have thought New York for its iconic buildings and landmarks, famous food and name cache. But after 5 1/2 years there, even I knew it was no more “American” than an Atlanta suburb. In some ways, it’s less I guess. Depending on one’s view of “America”.
A colleague here told me this week he is taking his girfriend to the U.S. for two weeks- her first ever visit. I was excited to hear this and asked where they would be going. He told me Texas. Texas, that’s all? Yep. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Hmmm, I thought. I have been to most of those places. They’re great. But Texas only?? Is that American enough? Okay, silly question. I know someone is going to strangle me while I sleep with a Lone Star flag and then choke me with some barbecue pork. Yummy.
If I had my way, I would make sure someone spent a day in Washington, DC, a drive through New England, had a meal in the deep South, saw the sites in NYC, people-watched on a beach in LA and the South Beach strip in Miami, attended a Little League game in a suburb in the Midwest followed by a potluck and football on tv at someone’s house, drove up the California Coast and visited at least one National Park out west and then a Target. And of course the list barely scratches the surface.
But most Americans have been to few of these places. Certainly not all. It’s not even abnormal for me to meet someone who never really left the East Coast, except maybe for a weekend in Las Vegas. Does that count? I don’t know.
I feel so torn when these Europeans and Antipodeans, who are known to be among the world’s best-travelled, tell me then have only been to Florida. I always smile and say “oh that’s great, Florida is great. I do hope you’re able to come back and see another state sometime though.” Doubtful. They’re on to their next country. America is crossed off the list. So I really hope Orlando is living up to its responsibility. Represent, Orlando, represent hard.