There's just something about America.
Aside from a few (major) issues with the health care system, the economy, and that business in Iraq, I'd say that America is one fine and dandy place to be.
When I was almost 11, we returned to North America from the UK, where I was born and partially raised. Our destination was Michigan, a state that looks like it wants to shake your hand, and at the time it felt like it too. People loved our crazy British accents, and asked adorably stupid questions about how hot it got in winter. People on TV tried to sell us watches that played songs by the Jackson Five (fifteen years too late) and the grocery stores were phenomenal--aisles and aisles of sugary, fatty, nutritionless treats. Do you remember what it's like to taste lemon Kool Aid, or a Hostess Fruit Pie for the first time? I do.
And then there were the restaurants. In England, my parents got Chinese or Indian take-out on the weekends after we were in bed, but I honestly cannot remember even setting foot inside a McDonald's the entire time we lived across the pond. When we moved to the States, it was a whole different story. My mom has never been mad for cooking (though, she always made a mean Duncan Hines spice cake!), and this worked in our favour when we moved to America. The fast food alone was an amazing discovery, and pizza was something we never had in Britain either, not to mention all those regional chains serving burgers and milkshakes. The Captain is heading to California on a course next week, and swears he will be finding an In-N-Out at his first opportunity. Jerk.
These days, when I make it south of the border, my main concern is shopping. There's nowhere like the United States for getting a deal. My best deals ever include a $9 brown suede coat I got at Dots, my $7 down vest from a Target clearance rack and my $7 black puffy down parka and $8 wool pea coat, both from the now-bankrupt Steve and Barry's. Wow. That's a lot of outerwear. Rest assured, under my coats, I am clothed in great American deals as well.
Reading this, my U.S.-based readers must think I see their homeland as a non-stop shopping-and-burger-eating experience. So let me also say this. When we visited Sister #1 in Philadelphia a few years back, we were absolutely blown away by the lushness and greenery in that city, not to mention the gorgeous scenery we got to look at on our way there. And America is as full of history as it is natural beauty. I still think combining the two by dynamite-sculpting heads into a mountain is a bit of a questionable enterprise, but I have to admit, I had fun looking at that on one of our big road trips as well. These days, if I had to pick a vacation destination, I'd rather take a historical walking tour in the U.S. than most anything else.
When I think of Americans, I think of the guy who saw our license plate in an Ohio parking lot and took time out of his day to animatedly inform us about a local golf tournament we should go see (we have zero interest in golf), or the lady whose house my parents had just bought who welcomed us in, served us coffee and donuts and chatted with us like we were old friends. Granted, if you go to the wrong side of certain towns, you might get car-jacked, and those cashiers at TJ Maxx kind of give you the impression you've interrupted their day by wanting to pay for your stuff. But all-in-all, it is my opinion that Americans are a darned friendly bunch.
So, my American friends, I wish you a happy 4th of July. Today, I celebrate with you, for the history, the hospitality and the scenery. But mostly for the burgers.