I’m from dusty highways that stretch out ahead of you, leading straight to the end of the world, running like gray ribbons between fields spiky with brittle stalks of cotton after harvest. I’m from vivid sunsets that splash the sky with their colors, bands of cerulean and gold and fiery orange, smudged with deep purple and pink, an ever-changing painting – and no trees to block the view.
I’m from hot Friday nights at the football stadium, sweating in our heavy band uniforms, bangs plastered to my forehead by a ridiculous plumed hat, the satisfaction of hitting every step and every note just right.
I’m from a town where everyone knows your name and everyone’s mom knows what you’re up to, where it’s impossible to go to the grocery store without running into someone you know.
I’m from a dry land made rich, and periodically made poor, by the oil hidden far beneath its surface.
I’m from summers hot enough to make you sweat during the two-minute walk to your air-conditioned car from your air-conditioned office, when you wear cardigans at work in the summer (to avoid getting chills from the a/c) and sandals for half the year.
I’m from a campus community that loves and prays and fights for its own, where lots of people are related by blood or marriage but even more of us are related by friendship and faith.
I’m from Southern twangs and warm tortilla chips, served with a bowl of salsa that’ll burn your mouth even as it delights your taste buds. I’m from hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants full of creamy enchiladas, smoky fajita meat, big red plastic glasses of ice water with a slice of lemon.
I’m from hugs in place of handshakes, and frequent occurrences of the phrase “bless your heart.” I’m from several circles of folks I consider family, some of them blood relatives, some of them not, all of whom love me fiercely, all of whom I miss.
I’m from a place where tank tops and sandals get far more wear than rain boots and wool coats, where we watch the sky and pray for rain, where summer thunderstorms are a welcome sight and winter snow is a novelty, not an annoyance.
I’m from West Texas, and even though I’ve lived across the ocean and am now living far across the country, I’ll never forget where I came from. And though I am grateful for my new life here, a part of me will never stop missing my home.