For the greater part of my life, I have had a troubled relationship with my homeland. My Scottish DNA never adapted to the Texas heat. I melt like an ice cube in Hades and sunburn quicker than you can say, “Pass the Coppertone.” The allergens, bugs and politics irritate the sanity right out of me. I spent years dreaming about living somewhere else – somewhere cold, free of bugs and of self-righteous hatred for those who are different. You know what they say: Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it. Now I’m living in Scotland, my dream destination. It’s plenty cold and I’m not allergic to everything that grows. I get to enjoy learning a different cultural style and trying out new foods, new hobbies and new ways of thinking. I feel connected to my ancient foremothers and forefathers who were forced to quit this verdant land under genocidal circumstances. In some small way, my being here reverses their forced emigration.
And yet, I miss Texas. I find myself becoming an enthusiastic connoisseur of bar-be-que and tacos, foods I never cared much about before. I get excited when I see Texas on the news. I’m regularly tempted to drop Spanish words into conversation, which are never understood here. (If the Scots think Mexican food includes fried chicken with bbq sauce in a “fuh-jie-tuh” then they certainly don’t stand a chance of understanding my frequent use of “no me gusta.”) On my recent visit with my family, I found myself appreciating the Texas sun, wide open spaces and even occasionally country music (quite a shock as I’ve always hated it). My English friend, Jan, once said to me that when you’re back in the place where you grew up as a child, you can relax into a state of being that needs no translation. I think it takes living away from one’s hometown to understand the bliss that can come from a visit to the place where one has universal understanding, and one’s cultural translation muscles are allowed to atrophy.
I don’t have a desire to live in Texas again, especially considering that the very air closes up my lungs and sends me straight to the allergist. But living away helps me love and appreciate my home state as I never have before. I have become the Texas Ambassador to Scotland, enthusiastically importing Stubb’s bbq sauce for all who are deemed worthy of its glory, telling everyone who asks that yes, Texas really IS that big; It’s bigger than France! I find myself far more proud of my state when abroad than I ever was at home, despite Rick Perry’s frequent attempts to make me hide my face in shame. In the immortal words of Mac Davis, “I thought happiness was Texas in my rear view mirror . . . but now happiness is Texas gettin’ nearer and dearer.”
Photo: Paul and me goofing off in cowboy hats.
Song of the day: Texas in my Rear-view Mirror by Mac Davis