January 6, 2011
I was never a native of the great state of Texas. Wait, what am I saying? ‘great’ rhymes with ‘state’; not ‘Texas’. In fact waiting until the formidable age of 8, moving from Tennessee, is hardly what I call “getting there as fast as I could”. However living in Texas for the next 12.5 years and 2 summers had a profound effect on how I viewed everything that was not close by; somewhat of a Texas worldview if I may (and I did!). We studied Texas History in school …TWICE, and square dancing was mandatory in PE. While in Houston, there was a mileage sign reminding us El Paso, TX was over 700 miles to the west, while Orange to the east is over 100 miles, Brownsville to the south is 350 miles, Gainesville to the north is 300 miles, and no one’s left Texas yet! …who knows what’s in the Texas panhandle.
The past 7 years have brought change. It all started after transferring to Oklahoma State in Stillwater,
America Oklahoma to finish my undergrad degree. These people didn’t care for the Texas State of Mind I possessed, but there wasn’t much that could be done. My love for hurricanes was eventually replaced by tornadoes, and it didn’t help that I began dating and then married an Oklahoma girl, while moving to Kansas City, Missouri for school again.
Just yesterday I flirted with the Kansas state line while picking up my wife from work. We live in a two state town that has begun to crack my one state assumptions of residence, background, beliefs, and convictions. I’ve got neighbors from Nebraska, Kansas, Korea, Iowa, and Canada and have yet to find anyone to encourage my Texas pride to levels it used to reside.
So now I’m cultured right? I don’t prejudge any state geographical bias or stereotype any longer while BBC specials on TV gain more of my attention and things such as global warming and world government tensions bother me more than they used to? No, I can’t contribute those to living outside of Texas but rather to growing up and possibly loosening my grip on the cares of myself.
I was able to return to the charm that is Texas for a week to visit family for Christmas. I didn’t think twice of striking up conversation with a complete stranger on the future movements of NCAA football coaches, or the surprise I didn’t possess when the waters I bought were comped by the receptionist at the hotel because of her sympathy of my flight delays earlier that day. I don’t believe Texas is just another state in the US south or just a part of the US geography known as the Bible Belt of America. It is a geographical idea to a lesser extent like America is an idea that holds a gravity making it hard to disown or lose favor with after moving away. I have at least five current coworkers who have lived in Texas at some point in life, and all of us talk of it fondly regardless of our race, religion, socio-economics, or past. How else can you explain it.
…You know, even here in the midwest, El Paso is still only 1100 miles away.