Sometimes it’s depressing to live in a place that nobody considers exciting.

When we go on trips and people ask where we’re from, and the answer is “Pennsylvania” or “Philadelphia,” there’s a glassy smile and a vague, “Oh, that’s nice…”  or maybe a “Yes, the Liberty Bell….”  Ian reported that in Europe, everyone said “Rocky!”  While it’s nice to be known for Sly Stallone’s character, he’s not real and he doesn’t actually go running through the Italian Market.

Contrast this with what happens when we’re vacationing with friends Lindsay and Bruce from San Francisco.  When they say where they’re from, everyone perks up and starts oohing and aahing about how much they adore the Golden Gate Bridge, the fabulous restaurants, Chinatown, the amazing architecture or the non-stop gorgeousness and coolness of the place. 

This used to happen at college in Ohio too.  Lindsay and I would walk into a frat party.  The guys would ask for basic information by way of introduction.  “I’m Jennifer from Missouri.”  Stifled yawns.  “I’m Lindsay, from Las Vegas.”  Cue the neon lights and the loud striptease music.  The buzz was instant.  ZING!!!  LAS VEGAS!  “I didn’t know anyone was from there, what’s it like to grow up among gamblers, do you know any showgirls?”    I would fade into the woodwork, then count the minutes until I could slink back to Beaver Hall, which was the actual name of our freshman dorm.

Sometimes, I was terribly jealous of my friend for hogging the geographic spotlight.  Before Las Vegas, she had lived in New Orleans.  In the FRENCH QUARTER.  Where her stepdad was a musician and her super young mom wore maxi dresses, and they had an apartment with wrought-iron balconies. 

After college, my zip code envy did not improve.  Lindsay went off to live in such glittering locales as New York, Boston, and SF.  I think she was strategically turning down  job offers in any run-of-the-mill places.  I was in NYC very briefly, then Washington DC (which was really very dull), and finally here.

Now, I have made my peace with being from a place that is perceived to lack sizzle.  OK, so it’s true that we’re not on the coast, we’re not on the prairie, we’re not in the desert or the mountains, and we don’t have amazing topography. 

The flip side?  We don’t have wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, mudslides, rockslides,  tsunamis, or floods.  We don’t even have crippling blizzards.  There are no alligators in our backyards, no scorpions in our shoes, and no bears nosing around our garbage cans. 

Above all, we don’t have earthquakes.  

Here is an excellent, and rather short, essay from Tracy Kidder on the history of Haiti and why a naturally occuring disaster there is made even worse as a result of the mis- treatment  its people  have endured for centuries.

As Americans of all time zones and zip codes, we will send help to Haiti.  And I will personally give thanks that our family is safe from almost all natural disasters, a silver lining of our dull location.

I am reminded of the Chinese curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times.”  I would add “And interesting places.”

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