When someone mentions “Texas”, there are things that spring to mind. The stuff that “everyone” probably pictures. You know, those things that have become so ingrained with “Texas” in our cultural consciousness that they have, over time, turned into something of a joke.
- The Big Hair, deserving of capital letters because, really, The Big Hair is an entity in its own right. And something that I, sadly, never managed to master — no matter how hard my mom tried.
- People who talk too much and laugh too loudly.
- Cowboy boots, country music, and kicker dancing.
- Dance halls and bars that are decorated with rusty tin and old license plates. And that smell like old beer and the sawdust that crunches underfoot as you slide across the floor.
- Impromptu get-togethers around a bonfire or a BBQ grill, with everyone clutching beer-filled red Solo Cups and telling their best tall tales. Getting rowdy and laughing too much.
And, I’m sure, there are many more. Too many to list. Because Texas is like that. It’s bigger than life, twice as loud, and brazenly unashamed of all of this. Basically, the thing that Texas is best at is, simply, being “Texas”.
But, for me, there’s so much more. So many memories and emotions connected with the Texas that lives in my mind and heart.
Like playing under a big sky so blue that it makes your eyes hurt just to look at it. Twisting and turning in a tire swing — an old car tire or, maybe, a tractor tire that some good-hearted adult had hauled up into a tree with a chain. And I would lean back and back and back, listening to the chain creak and watching those spreading branches whirling above me, laughing and hollering with my face turned up to that blue sky, until I didn’t know which way was was up and which was down. It’s like living in another world.
Old cars standing guard over green fields. Maybe they don’t run anymore, but, once, they did. And those memories — the joyful feeling of racing down a dirt road, the wind slapping your face and tangling your hair — remain. It’s what freedom feels like: sweet and pure. And that, alone, is reason enough to keep them.
The scent of the earth and life around you: fresh, new, and delicately beautiful. I’ll always, always think that this is how the color green must smell.
The colors of winter: the soft brown-gray of dirt roads, golden grass, and tender blue skies set against the impossibly dark greens of the live oak trees.
Watching the hills roll out before me. Harsh and unforgiving, with their scrubby brush and spiky yucca plants. And yet, so beautiful in their stark cruelty that it’s hard to look away.
The creek where I swam as a kid. Jumping into that waiting pool of coolness on a hot summer day was magical. The feeling of the water against my skin, surrounding me like a hug.
Dogs in trucks: covered in hay and full of happy, slobbery smiles and wagging tails.
The peace of ending the day on the front porch, watching the sun set and listening to the crickets while sipping iced tea.
No matter where I go in my life, no matter where I might lay my head, the Texas of my childhood memories will always be with me. It lives in my heart … the place that I come from.