What I Should Have Said: On America
Today, a well-meaning stranger asked what I do for a living. After a brief-and-vague description, he asked: do you only travel in the US? When I said yes, he said: that’s too bad.
As I walked away, I thought about what I should have said.
What I should have said was:
No. It’s actually not too bad. This country is beautiful. Have you walked on the sugar-sand of a gulf-coast beach? Have you seen the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan (or Lake Michigan from the top of the Hancock building)? Have you hiked in the New Mexico desert in late autumn, when the cottonwood trees hugging the banks of the rivers turn all yellow-gold and glorious?
Dear sir, who thinks that to only travel in the US is pity-worthy: have you driven any part of the Pacific Coast Highway? Have you listened to the music in the streets and clubs of New Orleans? Have you seen the Berkshires, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Rockies, the Adirondacks?
Have you watched the early sun slowly set over fields of Iowa winter-rye?
Because I have. And I assure you, dear sir, it was most definitely not ‘too bad’.