Has it really been 10 years? Apparently, yes. It’s amazing how fast that went, too. It’s also amazing how little I remember of anything before that. Memories disappear fast, and not always in order – some hang around more strongly than others.
I’ve re-learned so many things since my return.
1. Texas isn’t really Texas anymore. Sure, some of it is, but certainly not places like Dallas and Austin. I-35 is lost forever. Most of the Texas mystique is preserved only for its ability to trademark and generate revenue from tourists.
2. Texas has everything – you don’t ever really have to leave. Mountains? Check. Desert? Check. Beach? Check. Snow? Check. Pine trees, prairies, plateaus, bluffs, cacti, oak trees, deer hunting, lakes, rivers, marshes, corn fields, ranches, forests, or palm trees? Check x 14. We have things they don’t really have in other parts of the country. We’ve got Hill Country, armadillos, long horns, and more.
3. Texas is a hearty place to live. Dallas’s summer climate is second only to Death Valley in terms of heat index, and not more then 2-3 months later, boom – you’re taking the day off to whether the ice storm. It has hearty lifeforms, too – Bermuda grass, fire ants, armadillos, dandelions, all kinds of cacti, scorpions, killer bees, nutria rats, wasps, and Mustang Grape vines. You’re going to need both a lot of hot pepper (to help improve heat tolerance) as well as a lumberjack-style down jacket (for those icy wind chills).
4. Texas doesn’t care how you did it up north. Really. If you don’t like Texas, leave Texas. I was shocked at how many people had been blessed with the opportunity to live here (even if it was by way of an employment transfer) and didn’t appreciate it. They couldn’t stand the place. They were miserable people who weren’t even trying. If you prefer northern ways, go back up the northern way.
5. Weather can come from any direction. It’s typically west-to-east like everyone else. But it can just as easily come east-to-west sometimes. And don’t forget straight north or straight south.
6. I-10 has evaculanes in case of a hurricane. They mean it.
7. Everyone has a pickup truck. If you don’t, you stick out. But don’t think that a pickup truck alone earns you any merit. We can tell if you’re for real or not. That dealership-branded brand-new current model year Ford F150 without a lick of mud or red dirt on it is a dead giveaway, especially when the driver is wearing a white business button-down shirt and is driving like an idiot with a cellphone stuck to his ear.
8. There are indeed a lot more same-sex-oriented people here than I would’ve thought. And that’s quite all right.
9. There are indeed a lot more Volkswagon Bugs, Toyota Priuses, Smart Cars, and other hybrids here with Obama bumper stickers here than I would’ve thought. And that’s not quite all right.
10. The romanticized chili pepper is a South Texas thing. The romanticized boots, porch, and cowhide straps are a Northwest Texas thing. The romanticized outlaws in pickup trucks come from the corners – Houston to the Southeast and Amarillo to the Northwest.
11. The sun is strong. You might scoff at the temperature (“only 100 degrees? Hell, I’ve seen that in Canada!”) Yeah, well, I have too. And let me tell you, it’s not the same. The sun is a gazillion times more intense down here and that’s a factor not figured into the temperature. Hell, I don’t even think it figures into the heat index, since that focuses primarily on temperature and humidity. Don’t buy a black truck, breed black dogs, or wear a lot of black clothing. Black doesn’t work well in Texas.
12. Each big Texas city has its own personality and vibe that is completely different and unique from the others.
Dallas is materialistic and hyperfocused on looks. It’s snotty and opportunistic for investor-types. It’s very showy and people flaunt what they want others to believe they have (but actually don’t). It’s only fun if you have money, because everything costs.
Fort Worth has more hills, trees, trucks, and cowboys. People are more laid-back but the gang problem is getting worse. The country bars at the Stockyards are pretty cool. It’s very different from Dallas – much friendlier overall, and more western.
Waco is sort of a pseudo-center for technology and medical. But the tech sector isn’t hip and the medical is bottom-of-the-graduating-class. Not the best reputation. The rudest drivers on I-35 are those between Waco and Dallas. Stay in the right lane.
Austin is so open-minded its brains are falling out – and it’s only open-minded if you’re liberal; to see the narrow-mindedness come out, advocate a right-wing (or even moderate) stance on something. Woo-hoo, feathers get ruffled. Austin is your home for all things weird, trendy, organic, and traffic. Austin ranks with Dallas for horrendous traffic problems. As “green” as Austin claims to be, they sure do drive everywhere!
San Antonio is the ultimate small town. It’s like one big small town, or a bunch of small ones laid end-to-end. It’s the 7th largest city in the entire country, 2nd in Texas, and they have NO IDEA. And they like it that way. Life is simple, and they like it that way too. Lots of Spanish – whites are a minority. And that’s OK, too. Not a lot of race wars. Gang activity is picking up, but not racially motivated. Lots to do, if you’re not looking to be over-the-top entertained – and the vast majority of it is free.
El Paso is backdropped in mountains, very Spanish, and pretty laid-back. It’s not as poor as people think. Many shady businesspeople there, though. Unique in that it has no south side, at least not on this side of the border – only east, west, and north sides.
Houston is huge. It’s flat but you’re usually distracted by all the trees, so you don’t realize it. People drive fast but are overall friendly. The freeways are built wide and well, but there’s plenty of traffic anyway. Lots of business and oil. Lots of money, but also a good demographic mix. Lots of pollution, so the wind is welcome. Humidity can be stifling, but winters are mild because of the coast.
Amarillo definitely has an outlaw/badlands quality to it. It’s neat! Cold, snowy in winter, hot in summer. It’s flat, in the middle of the prairie, and Amarillo is IT – not much else for hundreds of miles. Still retains some of the Route 66 nostalgia. Definitely the hearty cowboy/cowgirl vibe, with pickup trucks and ranches. Friendly, quite conservative politically.
Our personal experience has sort of been divvied up into three 3-year blocks, with an additional year hanging out there (maybe starting another 3-year block of something, who knows?)
2001-2003 – Undecided Years – spent gaining our footing, getting our lives together, and deciding what we wanted to be when we grew up. Characterized by lots of driving, waiting for each other due to mismatched schedules, lack of money, and subjecting ourselves to way too much abuse in our jobs. Waitressed and did other odd jobs such as construction during this time. Listened to a lot of country music.
2004-2006 – Undergrad/Massage Therapy Years – a little more comfortable in our shoes now. Spent obtaining our massage therapy licenses and building my private practice, which was the sole source of my income. Characterized by a bipolar swings, a conversion to Hinduism, lots of new friends, putting down more solid roots, and still plenty of driving due to working in different places, going to school at different campuses, and providing outcall massage. Studied a lot for science prerequisites during this time. Listened to a lot of New Age and shoegaze music, as well as ambient dub.
2007-2009 – Chiropractic School Years – spent living, breathing, eating, and pooping chiropractic school. Characterized by early mornings, late evenings, health issues (except stabilizing in terms of bipolar issues), heightened gluten intolerance, an adoption of Buddhism and especially Wicca, self-discovery, neurology fascination, lots of new friends, and simplified driving. Studied a lot and evolved and transformed as a person. Grew and developed professionally. Listened to a lot of lounge and other miscellaneous new music. Less shoegaze and country, though.
2010-? – Early Practice Years – spent living in San Antonio and eating, living, breathing, and pooping Functional Medicine and Functional Neurology. Characterized (so far) by a lot of relief (at being OUT of Dallas), frustration (at many things – not knowing things I feel I should know, having lost time and brain power due to stress and gluten issues, early unsuccessful cases, peoples’ unwillingness to make their health a priority and then making me out to be the bad guy because I can’t work magic, etc), an adoption of Mexican/Latin American traditions, and a healthier lifestyle, doing what we love. Battling allergies, and constantly studying. Learning self-promotion, trying to network. Listening to a lot of Latin American rock and flamenco, as well as Bossa Nova and Latin Jazz.
So, here’s to the next 10 years!