Thursday, July 4, 2013

Texas Livin'

I'm in Texas visiting my husband's family.

Having grown up in the New York City area as part of a large Irish Catholic family, my immersion into Texas living has not been entirely smooth. I invite you now to picture any number of romantic comedies in which a big-city girl marries a small-town Southern boy and has to find her way using nothing more than grit and gumption!

Are you picturing the scene where Sandra Bullock is trying to fix the water pump and it keeps spilling everywhere while Matthew McConaughey shakes his head with a knowing smile from the porch? 

Good. We're on the same page.

I've been visiting Texas for several years now and I've come to really love it here.  I still wilt in the 100-plus temperatures and tend to overuse the phrase, "CAN I GET THAT WITH NO PEPPERS?" during food runs. As an urban Northeasterner I prefer my wilderness to be limited strictly to zoo outings, and so when I find myself sitting in the Guadalupe River with small fish nibbling on my toes my instinct is to shriek loudly to my husband, "HONEY! The nature is touching me!!!!"

You can only imagine my joy when, during an outing earlier in the week, my niece presented me with the following find:

Are you understanding that this beast was roughly the size of a small dog? IT WAS!!

No matter how much time I spend here I'll always remain something of a stranger in a strange land in Texas. But that doesn't diminish the real love I've come to feel for the place.

One of the best parts of being married has been the key my husband handed me to this whole new place where I am automatically welcomed into the relationships and traditions that he has been working to establish over his whole lifetime...

...and it is nothing I could have ever conceived of for myself. In Kerrville, his hometown, I have a seat in the skybox where his Dad calls the high school football games. There is a special spot by the river that his sister found who knows how many years ago. There's a great place his Mom knows for peanut butter shakes right outside of Waco. And then there are the dozens and dozens of people who greet him with happy smiles all over town before turning to me to announce with obvious sincerity, "Well, I'm sure happy to know you."

It is great for me, and I LOVE it for my kids.

I love for them to be learning this world as total insiders. I love to watch them explore the terrain their aunts and uncles roamed as kids, to see them touring the sheet metal shop their Great-Grandfather opened in 1954 and still runs to this day, to visit with them the Sunday School class full of folks who have been praying for them since before they were born, and to send them out to learn to navigate the terrain from their brave Texas-born cousins.

Tonight we'll watch the 4th-of-July fireworks down by the river, family and childhood friends in every form all around. As we drink our Shiner Bocks and eat something fried-on-a-stick I'll be glad that life led me here...

...deep in the heart of Texas.