In hono(u)r of my adopted nation's national holiday, I had the following conversation at airport security screening, while making my way from Raleigh to Washington, DC:
"Boarding card and ID, please."
"Here you go."
I hand over my license and ticket.
Pause. Careful, lengthy scrutiny of my license.
"Do you have a passport?"
"Uh, yeah, let me get it."
"Sorry. It's just that we only accept American and Canadian driver's licenses."
"Ok, well, Nova Scotia is in Canada."
"No - really?"
Now, the real question is, how shall I hono(u)r the Fourth of July?
Perhaps I will spend the day contemplating the following conversation, which I had with a fellow American we met while traveling in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (wherever that is - near Sweden?):
"So, where are y'all from?"
"Well, D's from New York and North Carolina, but lives in Los Angeles now, and I live in Halifax. But I grew up in Washington, DC."
"Ha! I'm sorry." This last is followed by a knowing smirk.
Now, I ask you. In what possible situation is it remotely within the bounds of politeness to deride a stranger's home to her face? Would I ever have said "Oh, you're from Georgia? Ha! I'm sorry!"? No, sir (as they say in NC), I would not. Would that I could say that this is the first time this has happened. I can't even count the number of times I have been left with an awkward silence, unable to think of what to say next, after this kind of reaction.
Most of these strangers have probably never been to DC, which (as I saw in today's unusually vernal weather) is a city of both profound problems* and stunning beauty. This isn't what people think of when they deride it, though - they think of government gridlock and empty political posturing. But the politicians aren't Washingtonians.** They come from other states to my hometown, and give it a terrible rep. Hrumph.
Yes, I think I should be able to work up a celebratory grump on the subject that will last all day on Saturday. At least until I watch the world's best fireworks display over the National Mall. This is indeed a sorry place to be from....
*Many of them exacerbated by the fact that most of those who use the city and its resources don't actually live there and pay local taxes, leading to a harsh juxtaposition between wealth and poverty.
** We are largely disenfranchised in Congress.