I've been trying to avoid memes and writing other "personal" posts in recent months because I had hoped to make this blog more "serious" (not that I think anyone's noticed ;) ). However, the "States Meme" is being passed around, and I thought I'd do it because I have a couple questions and comments to make. So, if you don't know the "rules" of the meme, underlining represents those states I've lived in, bold indicates the states I've visited, and italics indicates the state I'm supposed to be currently living in (except, of course, I'm an expat so no state has been italicized).
Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C.
So, as you can see, I've lived in only two states (roughly 20 years in each), and have visited 33 states plus D.C. I've yet to visit the extreme NE (Maine and New Hampshire), parts of the deep South (Alabama, Mississippi), and most of the upper Midwest and NW, plus Alaska and Hawaii. In fact, many of these trips to the various states happened up through my college years, either from travelling with drum corps (primarily in the Mid-Atlantic states and Ohio), travelling with family (up and down the Atlantic seaboard, to visit relatives), or from a series of cross-country bus trips when I would go back and forth between Arizona and New York for the summer and winter vacations. When I lived in Arizona, I rarely went out of the state except on the occasional trip.
But what does "visiting" a state really entail? I've listed Kansas as a state I've "visited," but the "visit" was just so I could say "I've been there." On my way to Arizona the first time, when I was going to be in my first semester of college, my dad, one of my sisters, and I had stayed one night in SW Missouri (Joplin, I think). The next morning, as we went into Oklahoma, we noticed that the Kansas state border was a very short distance away. So my dad drove off the interstate, and we headed north to Kansas. He drove maybe 500 yards past the Kansas border sign, then made a U-turn and we continued on our way back to Arizona. Thus, I've "been" to Kansas, or have I? Actually, there are several other states where my visit was similar to the Kansas "visit," and while I may have spent a day or two there, I saw very little of the state: Kentucky, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia. Also, many of my "visits" were pass-throughs: Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia. In which case, I feel like I know only 14 states (plus D.C.) really well.
The same "problem" also applies with some of the other countries I've visited. When I went to Switzerland, I only saw Geneva (and a tiny bit of France); the same with Mexico (visiting Nogales, Sonora, for some shopping). In Japan, I spent one day in Fukuoka, before returning to Korea. In Thailand, I went outside of the international passengers' section of the Bangkok airport just to be able to get some Thai stamps in my passport; otherwise I stayed in the airport (it was raining too hard that day to go visit the city, as I had hoped to do). Of course, I've also done some serious visiting of other countries, with numerous trips to Canada (various cities in Ontario) and Malaysia; likewise, living these past four years in Korea and S'pore.
I will also say, given the time and opportunity, I'd rather be on the ground when I visit a new state or country than up in the air. I do love flying, and it's an absolute necessity for traveling around most of Asia, but if I really want to know what a state or country is like, I'd rather be in a car or on a train. I'd rather see the landscape and the local weather and vegetation (or the lack thereof) to get an idea of how people and their cultures and societies are shaped. Flying is of limited help that way.