I haven’t had that goosebump-y America feeling in a while, though. I blame cynicism! Cynicism is really having its day in the sun lately. America-related cynicism in particular, what with all the political upheaval tossing things around and making it feel like we’re living inside of a giant washing machine. But there’s only so much cynicism I can take. Sometimes I just want to stretch my brain out on a red, white and blue lawn chair and bask in America’s vestiges of goodness — because, yes, there is still so much goodness to be found.
Don’t worry, I made you a list. Well, actually, I made America a list — a birthday gift to commemorate the adoption of her Declaration of Independence 241 years ago to the date: July 4th, 1776. That’s when America’s itty bitty crew of 13 colonies were reborn as a new nation, The United States of America, independent of the British Empire.
Okay, okay enough with the history lesson. (Who the heck do I think I am? Lin-Manuel Miranda?) Pull up your brain’s lawn chair and bask in this compendium of things to love about America:
1. Hamilton: An American Musical
I couldn’t mention Lin-Manuel Miranda without paying homage to HIS birthday gift to America. There’s literally nothing not to love about Hamilton — and I firmly believe I’m using “literally” appropriately in this sentence. The last time something was this uncontestedly beloved was probably when the wheel was invented.
The magic of being able to click my mouse a few times and receive a delivery of perfectly cooked salmon 30 minutes later will never feel overrated to me.
3. Friendly strangers
I am always particularly appreciative of the exuberant friendliness of my fellow Americans whenever I’m returning from a trip abroad and, time after time, the person who stamps my passport smiles at me like I am either their long-lost daughter or Oprah.
Ah, Disneyland. There’s a reason it’s called “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and there’s a reason the ~original~ one is located in America. I truly don’t think there’s any other country that would encourage the consumption of powdered sugar-coated Mickey Mouse waffles and stomach-dropping rollercoaster rides in back-to-back succession.
5. Takeaway coffee
In so many cities across the globe, you must sit down and drink your coffee out of a real coffee cup. In America, not only can you take your coffee to go, but you can also specify your desired container size (taller than my face), your non-dairy milk preference (cashew) and your favorite flavor concoction (one pump vanilla, one pump hazelnut).
6. Men with zero interest in fashion
Other countries are chock-full of stylish men with their tailored jeans and chic eyeglasses and colorful loafers, which is why I find America’s solid bastion of men whose interest in fashion is absolutely zilch to be rather endearing — comforting, even. Don’t get me wrong — I love a Milanese men’s street-style slideshow as much as the next sane person — but I will always maintain a deep-seated fondness for the ill-fitting khakis and New Balance sneakers of my male American brethren.
7. Amazon Prime
I. Freaking. Love. Amazon. Prime. I mean, free two-day shipping on everything from Crest toothpaste to Marysia Swim bikinis? It’s bananas. I might even venture to call it Jeff Bezos’s year-round birthday gift to America. Don’t even get me started on the Prime video options…
8. Streaming video
Speaking of which, America has the best streaming video services of any country in the world. How cool is it that we don’t even need televisions anymore?
9. Freedom of speech
I snuck this one in here at #9 because I didn’t want you to accuse me of being too corny right off the bat. In all seriousness, though, I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a country where my voice and my opinions are fundamentally protected rights.
10. Impromptu pedicures
I once interviewed Sienna Miller and asked her how she practices self-care. She told me that now that she lives in NYC she can get impromptu pedicures more frequently, which you can’t do in London because there aren’t many walk-in nail salons and you always have to book an appointment first. I’ve been grateful for American pedicure access ever since.
11. Ice-cream scoop proportions
You know how when you go to a beach town in New England like Cape Cod and you walk up to a ramshackle ice cream shop with chipping paint and you order a small mint-chip ice cream and they hand you what is, essentially, a pint’s worth piled on top of a waffle cone? Yeah. I really love that, America.
Malls get a bad rap sometimes, but they’re actually amazing. Where else in the world can you find Gucci, Auntie Anne’s, an ear-piercing pagoda and Bath & Body Works within walking distance of each other?
Thinking about malls obviously reminded me of prom — an equally important cultural institution unique to America. Questionable dresses, stretch limos, awkward group photos, clunky corsages…I wouldn’t want high school any other way.
14. Cheese on everything
Have you noticed how Americans just add cheese to stuff for no apparent reason other than plain and simple, honest-to-goodness cheese appreciation? It is remarkable. Hot dogs, tortilla chips, broccoli, popcorn, steak, salad — they’ve all been cheese-ified. If I’m ordering a dish in a restaurant and ask to add cheese, there is a very high likelihood that not only will my request be readily accommodated, but also there was probably cheese on it to begin with and it just wasn’t specified because at this point cheese is just an implied ingredient.
15. America is my home
And nothing feels more goosebump-y good than knowing it always will be.