July 11, 2010
Round Rock, Texas
Lately it seems that everything in my hometown is letting go of me, reinforcing my resolute belief that I’m making the best decision. My car has been crunched, job unmade, and the very weather seems bent on my destruction via pollen and mold surges. I think I might have been switched with a Scottish lassie at birth and Texas is demanding her return, making every attempt to oust the impostor. Here are just a few of the many reasons for this most incredible life change.
1. I can’t breathe. Seriously, I’m dying here.
Most people around central Texas have allergies in some form. They sneeze, itch or suffer watery eyes a couple times a year when the ragweed or mold is elevated. I, of course, never do anything halfway. When I was tested for allergies, I reacted to the entire panel. All 70 specimens lit me up like a Christmas tree. My allergist suggested that I move away as soon as possible. That was a year and a half ago. I’m on shots, pills, puffers, snorters and local honey. The treatments have been exhausted and I still can’t catch a breath. My lungs shrinking faster than the Texas democratic party war chest. If I stay here I’ll die.
2. Summer Depression - Dying even more
Each summer since I was a teenager I have suffered from severe insomnia. Only this year did I learn that it’s a real condition suffered by approximately 1% of the US population - most living in hot states. Summer Depression is a sub category of Seasonal Affect Disorder, a well known condition which causes depression in dark wintry months. Unlike my chilly friends, I suffer during everyone’s favorite season. The insomnia plays with my brain chemistry and leads to depression of a maddening degree. The prescription? Get out of the hot climate.
3. I’m a Bad Texan
I hate guacamole and country music and rodeos. Budwiser is gross. People who enjoy these things outdoors while it’s 105 degrees are insane. People who do Bikram yoga in Austin are beyond certifiable. Furthermore, I am at a loss to understand why the entire country is so in love with with naval gazing, sweat-ridden, bug infested city. I mean, if you’re a persecuted liberal in the rest of Texas is makes since but why are the people flocking here form California? My friend Levi (who is not a Texan) thinks I’m going to move all the way to Scotland and fall madly in love with someone from Lubbock. Only if God hates me.
4. The Marketing of Religion (Ok, it doesn’t send me packing on it’s own but it’s extremely vexing.)
There’s a woman sitting next to me in Starbucks perfectly illustrating this point. She’s working on her laptop while praying with someone on a cell phone regarding a new market crossover combining missionary work with NASCAR fans, who are all probably practicing or lapsed Pentecostals anyway. I mean, anyone in the American South who isn’t a Christian is either a) from another country and lost b) a Jew and really lost or most likely c) a former Christian who is about as likely to be brought back into the flock as a vegan to the bar-b-que truck. It seems that scores of MBAs have drifted from the ad agencies where they brand Disney cartoons onto bananas to the viral mega church movement where Jesus has serious brand name recognition. How can we cross pollinate the market with Jesus? How about WWJD hunting rifles and Hummers that come with “Real Mean Love Jesus” details custom embossed in paint for an extra $1000?
Despite a bitter post-fundamentalist period in college, I do not hate Christians or organized religion. I have seen faith motivate people to go out and feed the hungry, house the homeless and re-invent themselves for the better. However, I don’t think the Jewish rabbi who lived 2,000 years ago in the middle east was martyred so that you could put his name on your SUV or sell more toys or build a theme park. Why must we trivialize and market everything in this country? Can't anything - especially important things like spirituality - be left free of advertising?
I’m moving somewhere the Cadbury bunny has more branding than the local parish, somewhere that walking by or into a church does not fill me with the same trepidation one experiences when encountering a door to door salesman or telemarketer. There are plenty of doctrines available in the UK, but only if you’re seriously in the market.
5. I belong in Scotland.
I knew it the first time I laid eyes on the Scottish countryside in 2004. Since then, I have schemed and planned to go back and back for vacation, expecting the longing in my heart to wear off. It never did. I belong there and rather than fight against my nature I choose to wholeheartedly embrace it. Each day I get closer to my departure, I feel more and more alive. I have been surrounded with with and support form my friends and family in Texas, all of whom fill me with the courage to set off alone in pursuit of my dream. I leave behind my parents, grandmother, my cat Ezra, and more dear friends than I can count. What I will gain is a new, healthier, happier me. Texas is my disease and Scotland the prescription. Viva la Alba*!
*Alba = Scots Gaelic word for Scotland