Texas State of Mind

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Texas is a state of mind.

I’m a month and a half shy of having been a resident of Texas for a year. I was kind of nervous moving to Texas, since I am an effete Yankee liberal. I have southern roots—my mom is from a hollow in Kentucky called Swan Pond. I learned to cook using an iron skillet and Crisco. But although I come from a town that was mostly blue-collar and rural, I am a pretentious, overly educated, left-leaning woman who fled for New York City as soon as I could.

Austin, thank goodness, welcomes people like me. Austin is the state capital and my next door neighbor has a Bush/Cheney sticker, and a bumper sticker supporting his church. He’s ethnically Asian. On the right, my neighbors are three generations of people from India living in the same house and I don’t know their politics but the smell of their cooking is astonishing. Austin has the Texas cultural trilogy of food: great barbecue (Texas white food) great taco trucks (Texas Hispanic food—and if you want good Hispanic, it’s probably happening on a taco truck where ever the Hispanic workers in your town eat their lunches) and great Vietnamese food (Texas Asian—which doesn’t get a lot of recognition but which is a much greater cultural force in Texas than most people seem to recognize.)

But a friend said to me recently, “Texans are the kind of people who buy their own souvenirs.” And you know, it’s true. Bob likes malls, and occasionally we go to the mall and every mall we go to has a Texas Store where you can buy stuff with the Lone Star on it, and Longhorn shirts and second rate salsa and hot sauce with cute names. Every where else I’ve ever been, people who live somewhere don’t buy souvenirs of where they live. People in Florida don’t buy the schlock they sell to tourists. Souvenir is from the French word for remember. What’s to remember if you live here? Continue reading