Some of you know that I grew up in Michigan. In elementary school, I thought I was exotic for having been born in North Carolina. But then I met N, who had spent a significant chunk of her childhood in Mexico, and S, who I think came from Illinois but looked as if she'd arrived straight from Bollywood. They were the exotic ones. They were the (not actually foreign) foreigners, and for awhile, I realized how normal I was.
Funny thing about that, though. When I returned to North Carolina--the prodigal daughter--eighteen years after my departure, I felt strange all over again, as though I was entering a foreign land. Of course, I was, in a way--crossing the Mason-Dixon Line always means something, though I still haven't worked out what it is, exactly. Being a suburban girl meant I was a little out of place in my new rural surroundings. Unfortunately, I still wasn't an expat.
The good news is that I know now that America is a big, exciting place that allows for people of all types, which is a cool thing, when you think about it. The better news is that I know now that I am both Northern and Southern; suburban and rural; and all Cate, all the time, no matter where I am. And if that means being less than exotic, or even downright commonplace, that's okay. Besides, it means I sound like this, which truly cracks me up.