The guy at the Safeway checkout counter near my home town (who from his accent clearly grew up in a non-English speaking country) the other day said to me, quite confidently, 'You're from England, aren't you?' I answered, I think bemusedly, 'No, I'm from here.' And then added, for honesty's sake, 'But I have lived for a long time overseas, including in England.' 'Oh, so that explains it' was the response.
And then I have spent the last few days wondering how much I can read into this. Keep in mind that I have, shall we say, issues with my own American-ness, as the stereotypes that people have of us are just so negative (and the general tendency of Europeans to equate Americans with the American government does not help). One result of this is a particular fascination with/revulsion of my most noticeably American feature, my accent. And what is that accent? Well, on occasion, Americans comment that I have a bit of an English thing going on (for the past 7 or 8 years, my main contact with native English speakers has been with Brits of one variety or another, and I have picked up quite a few British expressions), which is generally viewed as affected or pretentious. The English of course find me American, which seems to be equated by many as by definition aggressive or just generally unpleasant. So, you could say that my accent is the worst of both sides of the Atlantic, joined into one voice. But, I sound clearly American overall, I would say.
When I have previously been mistaken for someone from somewhere else (which has only happened to me when speaking Portuguese, BTW, never in an English speaking context), I have been overjoyed. But I didn't feel that way at all this time. I felt just really and truly...bemused. Why is that? Is it that my anti-Americanism is really just a misplaced desire to fit in? Of course, I am and have always been quite proud to be a Californian ('state-riotic' as my brother and I call it) and a San Franciscan. So, perhaps the test would be to try and have the same experience, but in another state, and see what happens.
And, most importantly, does this mean that I am finally becoming so ex-pat that I am no longer a native anywhere? I hope not, as I am proud of where I'm from (on a local and state level, if not a national one). But perhaps it is inevitable.