There’s an old saying, “You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.” Years ago, I would’ve rolled my eyes at this. I still may, but perhaps with a little more whimsy. As a child who grew up in rural Texas just north of Dallas, I have memories as far back as I can remember of distinctly not wanting to be in Texas. Being a decidedly shy kid who was much more interested in art and theater than sports, I had a tough time fitting into a place that seemed to live and die by hometown football games.
One thing my upbringing did instill in me was my love for nature. Right behind my house were acres of untouched woodlands with an old, twisting, dried out ravine that held buried treasures such as old teapots and bits of mosaic glass. Countless hours were spent exploring and getting dirty, collecting leaves and treasures, making up lore of faeries and fantasy of the woods, and listening to the sway of branches in the treehouse my father built.
Of course, the older I became the more isolated I felt not being surrounded by “my people.” When my parents eventually split and my mom moved to a picturesque community in New Jersey up near Manhattan, I jumped at the opportunity to try someplace new. My remaining high school and college years spent in the Garden State were refreshing, and I eventually looked back on my small-town upbringing with nostalgia. Yet at the time, if you asked me if I would ever return to Texas to live, I would have answered with an enthusiastic “No way!”
Then, in December, Austin happened. On a whim, I decided to take a trip to this town that has a penchant for individuality and creative expression. Besides the fact that the December weather was blissful compared to the Northeast (and something I knew I’d pay for in the summer months), I instantly fell in love with everything Austin had to offer. The art and music in every corner dazzled me, and even during my brief stay, I met so many brilliant minds and beautiful souls. Within a week I knew I had finally found my home right here in Texas after all!
As I drove across the state line at Texarkana a few months later, my SUV packed to the brim with belongings, I marveled at the once forgotten beauty of the Texas sunset—bright oranges, pinks, and blues splashed against the endless open sky. The first few months spent getting settled were rainy, and I found myself, perhaps against my better judgement, sitting on my little balcony at night soaking in the natural, earth-shattering force of Texas’ thunderstorms.
No matter what part of the Lone Star State you hail from, there is beauty everywhere. And no matter what you’re looking for in life, every piece of Texas has something to offer.