Texas: One Year Later
I’m coming up on a year of living in Texas. In talking to different people, I am often asked: Why did you move here?
It is a valid question since we have no family here in San Antonio. My daughter’s in-laws live near Houston and we have visited them once. Neither my husband’s nor my job took us here. There was no university or cultural/church community or set of good friends that drove us here. So why Texas?
I direct you to the above photo. I took this yesterday while sitting on the swing at the neighborhood park and talking to my dad on my cell phone. Those floating, fluffy balls of cotton practically posed for this photo. And that limitless blue sky always invites me to think beyond my present concerns to something greater. What the photo doesn’t show are the multitude of birds, butterflies and dragonflies who flew past me during my phone conversation. I currently hear some bird calls like I did yesterday sitting on that swing. They communicate with me regularly.
What the photo does show is dead, yellow grass with the exception of the trees and tall grasses surrounding the water runoff. And I was alone on that playground because at almost 11 am, it was already too hot for most children to play comfortably.
There is no skirting around the truth. It is dang hot and humid here. We are on day 14 or so of temperatures reaching to 100 or just above or below it. But I do not bemoan my situation; I simply adapt my life to it. As I did living in the Pacific Northwest for so many years, I choose the optimal times to be outside, whether I’m gardening or getting outdoor exercise. In the PNW, I dodged raindrops and here I get out early in the morning and get things done by 11 am. I still choose heat over continual gray skies and gloom. My best friend in Portland has filled me in about the record wet spring and flood warnings on the Columbia River.
What we couldn’t have predicted before moving here is the wind. With the exception of the present heatwave, I’m surprised at how windy it is here during the entire year. This doesn’t bode well with the amount of garbage that I spot in certain areas. The wind carries it everywhere, including our front yard. Even though I am a self-appointed litter patrol specialist, I have a hard time keeping my yard clean. We miss the environmentalist mindset of West Coast living and I am on a one-woman crusade to teach this city how to recycle properly. I began with a kindergarten class at Woodstone Elementary by showing the kids the difference between what goes in the blue and black bins.
Another thing I could not have predicted are the horrible drivers here — Texas drivers are THE WORST in the country! Previously I owed it to them being dumb or misinformed (I mean, they did have to complete Driver’s Training to get a license, right? What were they taught?) But now I know it is because many (not all) are impatient, prideful or simply don’t believe the traffic laws apply to them. Let me give you a recent example.
My husband and I camped at the beautiful Lake Conroe north of Houston over Memorial Day weekend. On our way back, we had to wait behind an accident. We saw fire trucks pass us and we knew we would be waiting for a while. We slowly passed an onramp and we had to do a double take because we saw several cars going the wrong way into potential incoming traffic just because they couldn’t wait 20 minutes to get past the accident! One car got stuck in the grassy median strip and another two cars crashed in the process.
Accidents upon accidents. That explains the angry lawyer billboards I drive past regularly. It’s a regular thing here and there is money to made from drivers’ misfortunes. Did I mention that I almost got hit by a car while riding my bike? It happened on a nearby road. The driver didn’t bother looking up to see what (or who) was there before proceeding past the stop sign. You would think that Texas driving schools teach drivers to let pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way. They just don’t expect to see someone actually daring to ride a bike. Did I also mention the man running across I-35 recently risking life and limb? He made it to the median barrier and hopped over it. A few seconds later, a police officer followed him in pursuit. I can’t make this stuff up!
On to better topics — food. Texans excel at barbecue and Tex Mex. I haven’t felt the need to eat at Taco Bell since we’ve lived here. There are so many taquerias to try out, I can’t possibly get to them all. My husband and I are slowly eating our way through this city. He keeps a Google spreadsheet with notes on each restaurant. Our favorites so far are Pollos Asados Los Norteños (come visit us and we will take you there for the whole chicken dinner) and Biff Buzby’s (the buns are homemade and the restaurant’s atmosphere matches its fun name.)
I finally was able to tour the state capital in Austin with one of my new friends from work. It was a beautiful building and the tour was excellent. I learned that Texas has had two female governors, one of whom served from 1925–1927 — that was only five years after the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. Yay Texas! You may know that Davy Crockett fought and died in the battle of the Alamo. His portrait proudly hangs at the state capital.
While I don’t agree with much of Texas politics, I am glad that there a lot of Christians here who aren’t ashamed to show their beliefs. This was evidenced at Christmas time with the abundance of outdoor nativities and Jesus’ name displayed proudly in lights. It is also comforting to know that when people say they are praying for you, they are sincere. We have spotted many churches here, some with older construction, others more modern with tall crosses. Some of the names make us laugh. Our favorites are the 24/7 Church and God Chasers.
In our own faith, we have made friends, but it has been slow-going due to the earlier days of the pandemic. We have now had a few church friends over for dinner and a small gathering of couples. If I ever question my purpose for being here, it is easily answered by our ministering assignments. My husband and I are companions and we minister to three outstanding converts who continually teach us how to be better people. One of them is an African American woman named Janice. She has had her share of health problems but doesn’t let it stop her from being an outstanding cook, among other talents. She regularly gets up from her walker to bear testimony at church and usually makes everyone laugh. We love how she refers to the missionaries as “her boys.”
After a year of living here, we can say that our pros and cons lists are fairly balanced. We don’t regret making the move, but our financial reasons for moving here are tempered by increasing property tax values. The irony is that the reason for the increase in assessed property values is because so many people are moving here and driving up home prices. We love our home, its layout and private location in a cul-de-sac, and of course our little pool that makes the hottest days more bearable.
Knowing our nomadic nature, we probably won’t stay here until our dying day, just because there are other places we are curious about and would even entertain international living for a limited time. We are also waiting to see where most of our children and grandchildren end up. I think it’s safe to say that I started this blog in Texas, but won’t end it here.