All my life, I've tried to live and work in what I call "real" cities, or close enough to one to use it.
I've tried to avoid cities that don't have all the things I think a real city should have.
First off, the city has to be located on an ocean, the Gulf of Mexico or a Great Lake. No smaller lake and no river will do. Then, it has to have the major sports: football, baseball and basketball. Since I grew up a long time ago in the South, I give cities a pass on hockey and soccer. But they have to have an opera, a symphony, a good art museum and some theater. I think those eight things are essential.
I went to college and worked in a couple of land-locked Texas cities, and I spent some time working in Washington, D.C., but I was never really happy in those places. I missed the big water.
If I made a list of real countries, I wonder if America would be on it. What would a list of eight things a real country has to have look like?
Growing up in America, I never doubted we were a real country. I still remember coming home, after spending several years in Europe. I flew into New Jersey, and I was amazed at the amount of street lighting and the number of pay phones in America, compared to Europe. Thinking about the enormous wealth the consumption of that much electricity required, I felt proud to be an American, happy to be back home.