To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery.
The revery alone will do, If bees are few.
--Emily Dickinson

Friday, April 20, 2012

Transforming Texas

After bouncing around the Midwest all my life, I've recently relocated to Houston, Texas. I've always been proud of that fact that I'm a practical Midwestern girl. My people are more apt to be farmers than fisherman, so they didn't settle on either coast. And I never thought I'd leave the Midwest. Sure the bright lights of the coastal cities are nice to visit, but we had Chicago and other smaller, steadfast places like Minneapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Des Moines. We didn't panic when a snow storm hit. Ice didn't thwart us from getting to work either. Tornadoes were so random that you didn't worry unless one was on your doorstep and then you beat it to the basement. Because in the Midwest everyone had a basement or storm cellar to flee too. There were four seasons. The cold of winter followed the breathless changing leaves of fall. You could cut down your own Christmas tree and expect to get cold knees and pine sap sticky hands. In the Midwest, I knew the culture and I knew the rules.

Yet moving to Texas has been like moving to another country. It's a whole different game. It doesn't get cold here. There are no basements on homes. Everyone stays inside and hibernates with their air conditioners in the summer. And you have to shake the bugs out of the real Christmas trees that you buy in the Christmas tree lots because December is warm here and there's no killing frost. (Of these things I've been told since I have not spent a Christmas here yet.)

But bugs and heat aside, Texans are proud to be Texans. I now shop at a grocery store called H.E.B. which stands for Here Everything is Better. (No kidding. I couldn't make that one up if I tried.) The Texas flag is flown outside of homes and worn on dress shirts. They teach Texas history in the elementary schools. My daughters already know that its illegal to pick bluebonnets, the state's official flower, or kill a mockingbird, the state bird. In the mornings, they pledge allegiance not only the United States flag, but the Texas one as well. Since moving five months ago, I've seen several people with Texas flag tattoos. (Yet I never once felt inclined to get an Ohio flag tattoo.) They are proud of their state to be sure.

But where does that put me, Miss Midwest now living in the lone star state? In truth, I'm not sure. I suppose I'll just get used to it. Maybe I could meld the two cultures? (Tex Mex jello salad anyone?) The mix of cultures in Houston is amazing. There are strong influences of Asian, Hispanic, Indian and Middle Eastern culture all around me. It makes for some eye opening conversations and amazing culinary experiences. So maybe if there is room here for all that diversity, one practical Midwestern girl will just add some additional seasoning to an already incredible melting pot.

I do enjoy living here. Eventually, I think it will feel like home. Although I doubt I'll get a Texas state tattoo to prove it.