“From sea to shining sea,” to me, always meant from East to West. Moving west was the proper direction, from the Atlantic that first brought European explorers, troops, and colonists, to the Pacific that halted Lewis and Clark at last. From the first sea, the Old World, to the second, the New (to white people). I had a certain amount of pride in growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where, it seemed to my elementary school self, everyone must have wanted to settle down.
Going east now seems strange, like we’re pulling against the tide of adventure that swept so many people to the western expanses of the United States. “Go West, young man!” our so-called Manifest Destiny proclaimed, and the young men obeyed, and women, too.
(I’m currently reading a history of the Harvey Girls, which may be part of why moving back East [does it count as “back” if I’ve never lived this far east before?] feels weird – I just finished the background section on the Santa Fe Railroad.)
Instead, our current is bringing us to the shores of history, the New to Us But Old in General world. From the west coast – where I grew up surrounded by stories of pioneers for whom the Oregon Territory was the endgame, making it seem like the West must be the final goal for everyone – to the east coast, where the water is actually warm and the first growing pains of our nation started.
From one sea to the other. Our own new adventure.