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Arlington … the Washington DC Cemetery that’s actually in Virginia

My first trip to Washington DC consisted of my friend JJ and I arriving on a night bus first thing and leaving on another that evening. I did the same thing eight years later when I made a last-minute trip from New York City to catch up with some old friends from Antarctica. As you do.

Arlington National Cemetery, where JFK is buried, isn’t actually in DC, but over the border in the state of Virginia.

When I visited Paula in New York City in 1996, I knew that if I looked across the Hudson River from where she was staying, I was seeing New Jersey, not New York state, and that we weren’t far from Connecticut.

Australia, particularly New South Wales, also has people living on or near borders. I’ve stayed in Albury, New South Wales, but had lunch in Victoria. I’ve been to Boundary Street on the Gold Coast, where the traffic heading west was in New South Wales, but the traffic heading east was in Queensland. I’ve visited Wentworth, New South Wales, but stayed in Mildura, Victoria. I would deny ever having set foot in Fyshwick in the ACT, but if I had, I would have only been a few kilometres from the New South Wales border. (My spellcheck also denies the existence of Fyshwick and suggests I write Ryswick.) I will admit stopping at Broken Hill when crossing Australia on the Indian Pacific. While I was there, Sydney was 47 times further away than the South Australian border. Still is.

Recently, I bought a road atlas of the USA. It was on sale, as no-one in Perth was likely to use it in a hurry. It was only then that I realised just how many other big cities in that country crossed or were near state borders.

I knew that Chicago was in Illinois, but not that its northern suburbs were in Wisconsin or that East Chicago was in Indiana. The map featuring East Chicago also had a little bit of the state of Michigan in it. In turn, Illinois was on the other side of the river from St Louis, Missouri.

I’d heard of Memphis, Tennessee, but didn’t know that its greater metropolitan area stretched south into Mississippi or that West Memphis was in Arkansas. Charlotte was in North Carolina – just. Atlanta was clearly in Georgia, but still not that far from the Alabama border. And so on.

There are advantages to living near a border. If you don’t like how your state is being governed, you can move to a different one without leaving your general community. Or, up to a point, you can use another state’s better facilities without having to live there. It may not be so good when governments are trying to reduce movements during a global pandemic.

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Michael from Perth

A unique view of the strange and spectacular world through the eyes of Michael from Perth