When I lived in Texas (read: most of my life), I used to get frustrated at some aspects of Texan-ness. The summer heat, for example, is blistering, and the cities sprawl out over the plains, making it difficult to walk anywhere (and I do love to walk). Spring and fall, at least in my part of Texas, are always too brief. It can be hard, in smaller towns, to find the diversity of cultural events, cuisine, bookstores and historical richness that I appreciate in the Northeast (and the UK). It can also be hard to find folks whose religion doesn’t get mixed up with their politics (though I suspect that’s true everywhere).
When I studied abroad in Oxford, I came to resent the common perceptions about Texas – especially during the Bush years, when people who knew nothing else about Texas recognized it as his homeland. When people asked me where in the States I was from, I often felt a little defensive when I answered, “Texas.”
Here in Boston, I get the “where are you from?” question just as often as I did in the UK. This time, though, I’m proud to self-identify as a Texan. I don’t try to be obnoxious, but I make no bones about it when people ask me where I’m from.
Maybe it’s because I’ve settled more into my own skin, taking pride in my heritage, my family’s roots, my sense of belonging to those Texas plains with their scorching heat and breathtaking sunsets. Maybe it’s just that I miss Texas more than I ever thought I would. Maybe it’s simply contrariness, or a desire to separate myself from some of the difficult aspects of life in the Northeast. Maybe it’s all of the above.
Whatever the reason, I’m prouder to be a Texan than I’ve ever been. I say “y’all” frequently (and don’t plan on stopping any time soon). I reach for chips and salsa as an afternoon snack, and I frequent the “ethnic foods” aisle at the grocery store to buy tortillas and salsa and black beans. I start longing for summer weather around the middle of May. I hold doors for people and say “thank you” when people hold doors for me. And my heart does a little happy dance whenever I hear someone else say “y’all.”
Although I’m (gradually) settling into this Boston life, my internal compass still points far southwest of here, to two mid-sized towns on the West Texas plains, which hold my childhood, my family, my university, my high school and college years, and hundreds of people I love. And I’m prouder than ever to claim that heritage, even if it means I’ll always be something of a foreigner here.
Especially as the weather warms up, I’m glad to be in Boston. But Texas will always be home.