I should stop lying; Virginia (not Washington D.C.) is home. And this week I find myself suddenly transported from the cool, overcast skies of Seattle to the oppressive heat and grit of a full-blown Virginian summer. Besides celebrating a 20-degree temperature change by retiring my jacket to the corner of my old bedroom, I have been wandering old haunts and taking a short jaunt to Richmond (the state’s capitol and paramount hub of hipsterdom). While Richmond embodies a cliche sort of southern grit and sluggishness, my home-space of Northern Virginia is a generic, sprawling, monotonous mass of strip malls and suburban landscaping. However, no amount of concrete and construction in either place seems to have abated the rattling crescendo of cicadas or the dark thunderstorm clouds that roll in lazily before washing away the day’s sticky summer heat. In that at least, they’re exactly the same.
Driving with the windows down from Richmond, I easily imagined myself in a setting akin to a Mark Twain novel or Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” — one that doesn’t readily make sense in the cool evergreen forests of Washington state — and I wondered how many of my northwest friends would instinctively think of this. Yep. I’m definitely in Virginia, I thought. And wiping the thin but always present layer of sweat from my forehead, I realized that coming from another part of the U.S. had me seeing Virginia as Virginia this time, and not a one-size-fits-all image of America in general.