My sister was asked to help with a project that was assigned to girl in Nebraska. Her task is to collect stories from people who live in different states. I did one on Texas. Below is what I submitted, with some input from my sister.
I live in Houston, Texas. Texas brings up so many different visual images for various individuals. I remember one day I met a man from Paris while visiting the Seaport in New York City. I was about 27 and had shared with him that I had moved to the city from Texas because I just wanted to be a part of the Big Apple. He told me I was brave. I told him New York was not all that scary; and then he corrected me on his meaning. He told me that I was brave to live in Texas and then made reference to how everyone in Texas has a gun. This is one of many misconceptions about Texas.
Others think that Texas is covered with oil derricks from border to border, such that everyone has one in their backyard. Oh, if only that were true. I certainly would not protest to being an oil tycoon!
And then, of course, there is the landscape of Texas. Most believe that Texas is dry and arid, like a desert with tumble weeds aimlessly roaming the streets. They think of fiery Western sunsets accompanied with vibrant pink and purple clouds. And truth be told, one would find this in West Texas but East Texas is very much the opposite.
East Texas shares topography with its neighbors: Louisiana and Arkansas. The big thicket oozes across the Texas’ border providing a blanket of tall pines, swamps and wildlife. The coast of Texas is humid, green, wet and rainy. Houstonians call the months between May and September the “sauna season.” Before air-conditioning, city government offices closed down for the sometimes-deadly summer months. Residents of this part of the state begin dreaming of winter months by August.
And then, of course there is the Texas Cowboy. He is very much alive and well in both the eastern and in the western regions of our fair state. He has replaced his beloved horse with a pick up truck; and though he no longer wears the spurs and chaps, he continues to look great in his Levis and cowboy hat. The rodeo still comes to Houston in March every year, and it is a huge event that lasts around 20 days!
Let us not forget the space program. Houston, Texas is home to the Johnson Space Center. It is at JSC that the astronauts prepare for their missions in space. They start practicing their space walks at the Buoyancy Center, home of the world’s largest indoor pool. Once the shuttle leaves its liftoff platform in Florida, Houston’s command center immediately takes over and stays with the mission to the very end. And when astronauts come home, they land in Houston.
Texas’ documented history goes as far back as the early 1500’s when it was discovered by a Spanish explorer. That was the beginning of the various sovereigns over Texas. The first sovereign nation was Spain, then came France, then Mexico, The Republic of Texas, The Confederate States of America and then finally the United States of America. These sovereignties are the source of the famous “Six Flags over Texas.”
I am of the opinion that it is the people of Texas that make this state such a wonderful place to live. Texas folk are simply friendly people. I believe that it has to do with the pride we have in our hearts of this great state. We want everyone to love and cherish it as much as we do. So, we go out of our way to welcome newcomers to our home. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Houston opened its arms to over 100,000 people displaced from New Orleans, most of whom decided to make Houston their permanent home.
There is of course a common saying that “everything is Big in Texas. It really is just a very big state; the second largest in the US (but Texans joke that if you take all the ice out of Alaska, Texas would be the largest). It takes a day to drive from the eastern border to the western border of the state. Let’s face it, Texas makes a great cookie shape. So much room for decorating! And the shape of this state is very distinctive. Why, I bet you could put the shape of Texas in front of anyone in the world and they would immediately identify it.
So, I guess it’s safe to say that Texas is a very special state, at least to those who have lived here for a long time. My family moved here when I was two and I find myself saddened by the fact that I’m not native. Most Texans consider me an honorary native Texan. I’ll accept that.
My very good friend and fellow transplant Texan, John DeMers, once said: “I’d rather be nobody in Texas, than somebody some other place.”
I couldn’t agree more!