Boy the United States is a big place. I realized that when it hit me that the farthest I have ever traveled to get somewhere didn’t even get me out of the country. In fact, I had traveled farther more times when I hadn’t left the country than when I had gotten outside its borders. That’s a big place.
Because I have that kind of time, I took a few minutes over the weekend to figure this out. The greatest distance I’ve traveled from home to somewhere is a few miles over 2,500. That didn’t even get me completely across the country
I’m not complaining about any of this. I think Americans sometimes forget how close other countries can be to each other and how much of a challenge that might sometimes be. We can go pretty far and still be in a part of the world where people speak the same language, eat the same food, and respect the same routines. We may have come from different places but we have a sameness that is quite comforting. If you live in the middle of the United States you have a long way to go before you leave home. But if you live in the middle of Europe, you’re never more than a day away from a different world, often from several different worlds.
Sometimes I envy a European version of me who can step across borders and immerse himself in other cultures as easily as I travel from state to state seeing few changes other than the colors of the license plates. While we take pride in our backgrounds and traditions it’s very likely the customs we observe in our families and friends may be our only exposure to different cultures. From generation to generation our ways of life mingle and meld becoming even less different. Other times I recognize how wonderful it is that I can sample fairly authentic foods and dances, customs and costumes of so many nationalities just by visiting nearby nationality days celebrations.
Yep, the US is a big place. It’s not the only one of course. Canada, Russia, China, India, Australia, and Brazil are all big with lots of space from end to end. Iceland isn’t so big but it’s so isolated that it’s still a trip to get anywhere else. And then Greenland is big and isolated.
I suppose this like many other things in my life if I could change I probably wouldn’t. I may not get to see a different country every time I want to take a trip somewhere but then I haven’t had to add any pages to my passport.
That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?