Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Texas Sized Love the Texans Have for Texas

Periodically, I get very angry at Texas. This is a state where people drive really big trucks really slowly without their lights on in the rain on the freeway. This is a state so big that to get out of it you have to fly on a plane because it isn't worth it to try to drive so far. This is a state--at least this eastern part--without mountains or foothills or large forests or anything much in the way of visual interest. This is a state that is CONSTANTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

But mostly what I'm having such a difficult time understanding is why are people so proud to be from here? What's so gut-wrenchingly endearing about cowboy hats and boots and huge trucks and bland asphalt landscapes and Tejano music? Because a lot of people who are born here, who grow up here, are fiercely, fiercely proud to be from Texas. I saw that a lot in Alabama too, of course, which is even sadder somehow because we knew our state was a big bloody sinking ship, and the majority of us tucked ourselves in tightly for the night to ride it all the way down because, my god, we loved being backwards and stagnant. Alabamians are stupid, I guess, just like they all say.

But I guess I understood the Alabamians to a certain degree, even when they were missing teeth and wanted to marry their four wheelers and wore rebel flag t-shirts ON PURPOSE--because, did you know? Redneck is fashionable--and would, intermittently in conversation, spit tobacco juice in long dirty streams and then push back their camouflage baseball caps to an even jauntier position on their heads, because somehow I AM one--an Alabamian--even if I don't do any of the above things. I guess it's called nationalism or, well, regionalism. I guess we make up our identities like oozing little amoebas, everything coming into us--all the sensations and attitudes around us--like an osmosis we can't stop. And it makes a difference, even if we wear a lot of black eyeliner and listen to the Cure because they're, like, so retro and cool, and make fun of the boys who go mudriding for fun on Friday nights. Even if we're gasping for air like a fish flipped onto a hot dock because we can't understand the places that made us, it makes a difference.

So I don't really understand the Texans, and quite literally because here in San Antonio a lot of them don't even speak English as a first language, but also because I don't get cowbow chic and I don't see the point of being proud for being from a state so big that if you live in the middle of it god help you because the only way you're ever getting out is by leaving on a jet plane. But I guess it doesn't even really matter. I spend my waking life feeling like a foreigner in my own skin anyway. Everywhere I go there are people with different lives than mine, who live differently from me and think differently from me and believe in things differently than I do. The disparity just boggles my mind sometimes. Thank god there are books and movies and music that help us seam together the different parts. Thank god there are basic human experiences like love and betrayel and kindness and sadness. Thank god I didn't want to stay in Alabama forever. Thank god I don't wear too much black eyeliner.

And thank god I'm not from Texas.


Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

Heavens! I've never seen somebody exclaim that they're glad they're not from redneck Texas, and have it be because they're so comfortable being from redneck Alabama! You need to see more of the state before you judge the landscape boring -- Texas isn't just the stretch of I-10 between SA and Houston!

I found myself writing recently here about Alabama and southern values. Perhaps you'll find it interesting.


10:26 AM  
Blogger Audra said...

I've had this discussion before. I think I am more proud to be from Tennessee than I am from Alabama. Although I'm not technically from TN, I claim it as home. Well, I'm kinda homeless because I don't really have much in TN anymore. Anyway. Those are my thoughts.

4:35 PM  

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