I wonder if a culture is more alike, the people more linked, more bonded somehow in nations that are smaller than the United States. I’ve been pondering that recently. I was raised in a village in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. I never even knew we had a culture. I knew we had family traditions, the way we observed key holidays, birthdays, the evening family prayer routine. I knew my parents’ expectations of me. Good grades in school, good manners, respect for adults. Our weeks had a routine. Church on Sunday, baths on Saturday, come in from play when mom opened the window and called us.
When I moved to the Syracuse, NY area as a young mother of two, there was a different culture but not so different. It was recognizable. I was startled when we lived in a second floor apartment across from a corner bar. I’d never seen fights in the street before. One night a woman watching two men wrestle took off one high heeled shoe and whacked one of the men on the head. People scattered as the police arrived. I was intrigued and upset.
Moving to North Dakota brought me into an entirely different culture. I returned to college and got my undergrad degree during the upheaval of the Vietnam war. Protests were new to me but I realized they were not new to our nation.
After graduation, I went to work at a newspaper in the county seat of a rural area where farming was one of the major economic drivers. Then I went to work for a farmer owned cooperative. I fell in love with farming, the values, the ethics, the seasons, the people. I was super involved in the community. I loved the prairie country where the horizon stretched beyond where my eyes could see.
I was not as keen on the bitter cold weather and the blizzards. I knew cold having been raised in the Adirondacks. I didn’t know blizzards until I tried driving in one or even walking to get the mail at the end of a driveway when I lived by a Minnesota lake for a few years.
I thought I knew and understood Florida because I spent time there with my mom when she wintered there but I only knew the world of snow birds. Living here full time is different. Where we live, tourism and economic development are major drivers. And then there are literally the drivers who race at the International Speedway and other race courses. Add two events for motorcyclists, continual music concerts of all kinds, live theater, the beach, the fishing industry, and this is a complex culture.
We may share certain values and interests no matter where we live in the United States. I am sure we do. But we are not that homogenous. And that’s okay. It’s more than okay.