I’ve spent the past three weeks in Texas. More accurately, I’ve spent three weeks in a row in Texas, returning to Connecticut on the weekends, just long enough to unpack to pack.
I’m growing to love Texas. I love the people. I love the landscape. I love that there are places still in existence where time has stood still, unaffected by the addition of the word “selfie” to the dictionary and the prevalence of Miley Cyrus’ tongue. I love the food: The barbecue and texmex and sweet tea and overly enthusiastic politeness of Starbucks baristas — even if I have to explain to them what a red eye is. I love my job and that no two days are ever the same and that I don’t spend my hours staring at a cubicle wall wondering if anyone would notice if I disappeared to play Flappy Bird in the bathroom for the next two hours.
In the past three weeks, I’ve driven across much of this absolutely fucking gigantic state and I’ve loved that the most. I drove from El Paso — where the main stretch of highway runs parallel to Juarez, Mexico, a chain-linked fence separating you from the most dangerous city in the world — to Midland. Even if there were no fence, you’d be able to see exactly where the border lies, there’s a visible contrast between one of America’s safest cities and the poverty that stretches as far as you can see out the passenger side window.
In Midland I was in awe of the oil fields and the fact that I had to go through border patrol while driving from one part of Texas to another.
I arrived home on a flight from Midland via Houston around midnight, long after the kids were asleep. I kissed their sweet and soft foreheads as they slept. My son rolled over and farted and my daughter woke and mumbled something that sounded like rejected dialogue for the character Rust Cohle.
I was home just long enough to tend to everything waiting my attending — laundry, school forms, inspecting my daughter’s recent orthodontic addition. We snuggled. We played. We made the best of it.
I landed in Austin at midnight the following Monday, and drove to Temple on some of the iciest roads I’ve ever driven. That night I took a vow to never make fun of southern drivers in the snow again.
I spent the rest of the week between Temple and Killeen before returning home long enough to squeeze the kids with everything I had as they left for their weekend at their dad’s. I picked them up to squeeze them again and tuck them into their beds and leave for the airport hours before the sun rose.
I arrived in Lubbock this week by way of Denver and then drove to Abilene, from where I’ll drive to Dallas tomorrow for my flight back to NYC by way of Chicago. The drive to Abilene was breathtaking — isolated roads and tumbleweeds broken up by the iron gates of ranches.
As much as I love Texas, I’m ready to go home. I try and compartmentalize so I don’t continually ache with missing them. I focus on work, on soaking in every detail of the culture my travels make me privy to.
I go home tomorrow and the thought of squeezing my two kids with as much strength as I can without it being child abuse and knowing that I’m not leaving again on Monday makes me want to fucking scream and wake up the people in the surrounding hotel rooms. This weekend I can unpack the suitcase I’ve been living out of and put it away (after letting it sit at the end of the bed where we’ll continually trip over it for three weeks). I can feel the little arms I miss so much wrapped around me and revel in the sound of their voices — even if they’re screaming directly into my ears.
I just hope withdrawals from barbecue aren’t a thing.