Yesterday my mother emailed me the above picture with the caption, “Remember this picture? I call it “Future Texan”.
I’d like to call it, “Future Toddlers and Tiaras Reject”, but “Future Texan” will suffice.
I’m a Northerner. A Yankee. I come from land where for six months of the year social interaction and entertainment is hunted for it’s rare and delicious meat. My ass had never seen the sun nor had my virgin taste buds made love to anything spicier than vanilla bean. Vanilla bean is not spicy, you say? You’re right. The word “vanilla” just seemed appropriate in this paragraph. Growing up in central New York makes you vanilla. I was vanilla. Diverse culture and cuisine are not prevalent in central New York. That’s not true. Diverse culture and cuisine outside of all the white people from Old Country is not prevalent. I had never even seen a Mexican restaurant until I moved to California. Sushi? Indian? Ethiopian? These things did not exist where I was from. I once heard there was a Thai restaurant 40 miles from where I grew up, but I had no idea what a Thai was. Actually, that’s not true either. That makes me sound like a raging idiot. I was just scared of the Thai.
But one day I left the Land of No Smiles for pastures that were once green but charred brown from incessant fires. After five years in California, I made my way to Texas for absolutely no reason other than that I could. I liked the idea of moving to a place where people added this many question marks- “??????????”- to their response when I told them where I was going.
“You’re moving to Texas????????? Why???????????”
“I’m moving to Texas because I read about it in a magazine once!” I’d say. “Oh! And I want to make the same exact trek Pee-Wee did to find his lost bike.”
So one day I packed into my car a couple of suitcases of clothing, a Kings of Leon CD that I wish didn’t exist because I’d like to think a more “romantic” album was the soundtrack to my big move, and an 80’s Yamaha keyboard that I envisioned playing on the side of railroad tracks when inspiration hit me and headed out for the open road.
What struck me first about Texas is how MOTHER F’ING BIG it is. Hot damn is this a large state! It took me ten hours of driving through ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS to get to Austin. I became convinced that my car was going to break down in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE where I had NO CELL PHONE RECEPTION and I was going to be eaten by WILD ARMADILLOS.
What struck me second about Texas was how nice everyone is. Like almost kind of Stepford Wives-nice. Like where at first my politeness-deprived mind felt compelled to slowly back away and sprint for the closest shelter when someone held the door for me or said “hello”. I remember calling my mother the first couple of months I lived in Texas often randomly crying, barely able to sputter out, “Mom…theeeese people…I-I think they’dd help me if I were sh-sh-ot on the strrreet. I-I thhink it’s all g-going to be OK.”
I never imagined that I would fall in love with Texas as much as I have. Three years later the honeymoon hasn’t worn off and I’m continually inspired by the Texan culture. Er- Austin culture. I’m frequently reminded that the two are not the same- though it would be foolish to deny that Austin is a uniquely Texan city.
Austinites and Texans are proud of where they’re from. They wear representative shirts, they wave representative flags, they wear representative flags as shirts and wave representative shirts like flags. They have misquoted bumper stickers that say things like, “You can all go to hell- I”m going to Texas- Davy Crockett” or “I’m Not From Texas, But I Got Here As Fast As I Could- Some Dude”. They do cool things like ride rubber tubes on the river with beers and go to water parks with beers and ride bikes with beers and throw metal washers while drinking beer with each other.
I often feel like David Byrne in True Stories, a curious visitor wandering wide-eyed through this gargantuan state. My eyes filling with images of juxtaposed 1950’s Main Street and highways to the sky. Cowboys, hipsters, belles, hippies, and entrepreneurs fill in the settings and different types of music act as the soundtrack. I never danced before I moved to Texas. Now I dance all of the time.
Texas is a winsome state filled with magical people equatable to unicorns and fairies. There is no place quite like it and I’m so happy to be here. The Future Texan found her place. Maybe one day she can drop the “Future”. Or maybe she can drop the “Texan” and just become “The Future”?