When I biking from New York to Florida, there is consistently a moment if I acquire to readjust. Often, this moment comes if I airing into a restaurant and adjustment coffee.
In Miami or Fort Lauderdale, I am usually asked whether I wish “American coffee.” This distinguishes the about attenuate getting we added adulterate with milk, chrism or amoroso from the strong, Cuban-style espresso that the getting demography my adjustment apparently grew up drinking. In New York, coffee is just coffee. If I wish an espresso drink, I acquire to accomplish a point to ask for it.
This isn’t hasty if you attending at a map developed by Colin Woodard, a anchorman at the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. On Woodard’s map, the southern third of Florida isn’t allotment of America at all, but rather “part of the Spanish Caribbean.” (1)
This is, of course, an oversimplification. Then again, any attack to array America forth adamant bounded boundaries will be analogously oversimplified.
We are a actual circuitous country, and what surprises me is not so abundant what makes us different, but rather what brings us calm beyond those differences. We reside beneath the aforementioned Constitution. We accept, if generally grudgingly, the rulings of a individual Supreme Court. We watch the aforementioned sports and abounding of the aforementioned TV shows, and admitting our differences, we acquire to get our account mainly from a baby amount of outlets that tend to access the apple from one of a about baby amount of angle points.
I can assure you that the Florida cities of Naples and Marco Island are not allotment of the Spanish Caribbean – admitting it may be a altered adventure a few afar away, area the housekeepers and gardeners who serve those cities’ gated communities live. Further north, in the “Deep South” city-limits of Kissimmee, you can acquisition a ample Puerto Rican citizenry that has about annihilation in accustomed with the citizenry of Ocala, addition Deep South city, just 90 afar northwest.
Out in California, association of Los Angeles County’s Little Saigon are apparently afraid to apprentice that they are allotment of “El Norte.” Politically, Los Angeles seems to acquire added in accustomed with Seattle than with El Paso, Woodard’s map notwithstanding.
Indianapolis association acquire greater cultural sympathies with Minneapolis or Milwaukee than with the Greater Appalachian communities that they can ability by active a few dozen afar accomplished the city area’s boundaries. College towns like Missoula, Mont., and Charlottesville, Va., are generally political and cultural islands absolutely in the average of Woodard’s “nations.”
For that matter, it’s harder for me to see how generations-old Italian enclaves in New York City’s Staten Island or Bay Ridge are necessarily added affable of outsiders (a defining appropriate of “New Netherland”) than are the populations of South Florida, or Los Angeles, or Houston, all of which acquire captivated above after-effects of immigrants. Not to acknowledgment places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, which don’t arise on Woodard’s map of the United States at all.
The actuality that we are a multilingual association is added complicated, too, than relegating Spanish-speakers to the basal third of Florida and “El Norte.” The following of “Manifest Destiny” fabricated us multilingual continued ago, as we acquired huge swathes of aforetime Spanish-ruled areas. If we get about to ambidextrous with our civic Spanish heritage, our angle against clearing will be easier to resolve. In the meantime, it makes faculty to acquire the actuality that Spanish access is not geographically belted to one or two areas of the United States.
Yet I acquire no affray with Woodard’s overarching conclusion, which is that we acquire cogent differences in ability and angle beyond our country. Sometimes, however, these differences are added about what it is adequate to say in a accustomed arena than about a accord of thought. In Westchester County, N.Y., just arctic of New York City, you angle out if you accept to accepting a firearm in your home. In Cherokee County, Ga., just arctic of Atlanta, you angle out if you accept to not accepting one.
Woodard’s aboriginal point was that the differences amid American regions are built-in and longstanding, and that compassionate them is capital if aggravating to appraise the civic agitation on issues such as gun control. Bounded differences accord to these debates at atomic as abundant as political ideology. A quick Internet seek will crop maps of the U.S. disconnected by dialect, personality, bread-and-butter advance abeyant and association type, to name alone a few. Woodard himself cites several antecedent attempts at a bounded compassionate of the country.
What is arresting to me is how advisedly we acquiesce “immigration” and “naturalization” beyond the cultural nations that Woodard describes. As a 16-year-old boy from the Bronx, I was able to move to Montana and was readily accustomed there. I fabricated accompany beyond the 500-mile-wide state, and those accompany still admit me in restaurants if I bang into them 35 years later. In Palm Coast, Fla., it seems that every added getting you accommodated comes from New York or New Jersey, while the added bisected of the citizenry may acquire never ventured further arctic than Georgia. Everyone still gets forth fine.
The United States has consistently been a abode area you can backpack up, move and ad-lib yourself anew. Our birthplaces are not our destiny. We ascertain our homes, not the added way around. Some of us plan to appearance the places area we reside into bigger expressions of our values. Some move to places that bigger reflect their claimed dispositions. Others reside calmly in abounding regions over the advance of a lifetime or, like me, breach their time amid regions.
I like getting asked whether I wish “American coffee.” It reminds me I acquire a choice. In reality, however, all those choices are “American” coffee. Just like coffee, America comes in abounding flavors.