At La Scala, I shared a box with a couple from Corsica for whom I offered to take a picture, as they were taking selfies. We then got to talking about where we’re from and I mentioned that I am from California; the expressions on their faces changed immediately from interest to mesmerized.
There is a marked difference in people's reactions when I say that I am from "California" versus "the US." In Europe (and what I've observed in the Middle East), Californians are adored for their "wild wild west" approach to life. Here are a few romanticisms I've heard: "how liberal, progressive, green, cultural, laid-back, beautiful..." The French, who have a reputation for cultural snobbery at times, could not stop showering California with compliments. California represents the future and magic—Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Napa Valley, San Diego suntans, Highway 1, grass dispensaries, surfing in Big Sur, the Golden Gate Bridge, and so much more.
Am I proud to be an American? It's a lot more of a difficult question for me to answer than answering "am I proud to be Californian." Often times I feel polarized because my heritage is Korean, yet, as my father says, I was "Made in the U.S.A." Without going on too long of an anthro-socio-ethnic identity crisis rant, I will say that it is a bit confusing to call myself American at times when I get treated like a foreigner in America, though in Korea I stick out like any other America (most likely because of my tan skin, which Korean women fear like a vampire does the sun). However, there is without a doubt in my mind that I am Californian. More than nationalistic, perhaps I am statalistic-- "sono di California."
We are a special breed of our own, and I will always keep that with me even when I move to New York. Not so coincidentally some of the awesomest creatures I've met at Fuqua either have CA DNA in them by birth or have been converted. The CA's just naturally somehow find each other... (lots of love to Aster, Chantel, Linda, Rishi, Rachel, and Joakim... and as I continue to proselytize, here are the most recently baptized: Sami, Michelle, Michael, and Sam...)
It served me well to state, "Je suis californienne": Sophie gave me her number and told me to look her and her husband up when I come to Corsica.
Viva la California!