You know what would really piss me off? To wake up one morning and discover I was living in a different state.
That’s exactly what has happened to 19 families living along the border of North and South Carolina.
Here’s the story, or as much of it as I can make sense of:
Evidently, back in 1735, the provinces of North and South Carolina agreed upon a border (continued below map). Those being simpler times, the border was a nice straight line, at least until it made a 45◦ turn for some reason. The boundary was agreed upon by the King of England, probably with the 18th Century equivalent of “Yeah, whatever.”
Between then and 1815, there were no fewer than five “original” surveys. I’m not sure how there can be more than one original survey; it must be the same sort of circumstances that resulted in there being what seems like dozens of Original Famous Ray’s Pizzas in Manhattan. Then in 1905 and 1928 there were “historical resurveys,” whatever the hell those are.
Every one of these surveys resulted in the border moving a smidgeon, like when Donald Trump first announced his candidacy, and everyone laughed, but he kept moving closer and closer, one tweet at a time, until suddenly everybody woke up one day to discover they were in an entirely new place.
You may wonder why there are even two Carolinas at all. After all, you certainly wouldn’t want there to be two New Jerseys. Well it all has something to do with the King giving the land to eight different Englishmen and then wanting it back, which prompted the local Native Americans to call him an Indian giver. At various times in the 17th Century, this land included part of what is now Georgia and actually ended somewhere south of what is now Daytona Beach. Unfortunately, when they somewhat arbitrarily drew up colonial borders, that southernmost land ended up in Florida, which resulted in there being more of Florida today than there might have been.
I think we can all agree that we’d be better off with a little less Florida.
Anyway, the Carolinas, for some reason, ended up being two provinces or districts or territories or whatever the Brits called them before they were called colonies. And, by the way, do you know why the Carolinas are called the Carolinas? Because they’re named after King Charles IX of France. I don’t know how they got Carolina from Charles, unless His Highness sometimes appeared as Caroline in some of the tawdrier parts of Paris, which judging from his outfit at right, wouldn’t have even required a change of clothes.
Fortuitously, when the British took over the land, they also had a King Charles in charge, so they didn’t have to change any of the stationery.
Okay, so now we fast forward a few centuries and we have GPS technology, which has managed to plot out to the micro-inch where the original, original, original, etc. survey said the border was. I imagine someone must have been driving along and heard their GPS lady say, “The border of South Carolina is not where the English wanted it to be. Recalculating.”
A sane person might think that, given all the hassles involved, it wouldn’t be necessary to rearrange the border back to where it was in the 1700s. But we are talking about governments here, so of course they just had to redraw the line exactly where the GPS told them to. And that is why, beginning on January 1st, 19 families found themselves living in a different state.
And this is not just a cute story to tell the grandkids. These poor folks now have to pay more (or less) taxes, get new health care plans, and, if they’re on Medicaid, possibly find that their new state doesn’t cover some stuff at all. If they have kids, they may be in a new school district with a new curriculum. And if they’re transgender as well as trans-Carolina, they may now have to deal with North Carolina’s bathroom law.
And then there is the case of one woman who has the new state line going right through her master bedroom and now has to pay property taxes in both states. Really. I do not know if she’s married or, if she is, whether she now has to go across state lines to have sex with her husband, which, given the two states involved, could be illegal. (Giving or receiving oral sex, for instance, is against the law in South Carolina. However, it may be okay for this couple if the southern half of the body is over northern part of the line.)
Now, if you’ve ever driven through the Carolinas on the way to someplace good, you are probably wondering “What will become of the world-famous South of the Border tourist attraction and regional ethnic stereotyper?”
Not to worry, traveler. It is still south of the North Carolina border. And Pedro the Bandito is still there to greet you.
In conclusion, I don’t see why these honest, hardworking Carolinians should be so inconvenienced just so the border, after almost four centuries, can match the one that was largely made up in the first place. I mean, it’s not like there’s a natural border, like the Hudson River, which separates New York from New Jersey except where New York crosses over it. (Sometimes the colonists were idiots.)
Personally, if I ever go to sleep one night in Connecticut and wake up in another state, I hope it’s Hawaii.
See you soon.