Monday, August 18, 2008

I have never envisioned the word "Texas" anywhere near so much lush and green. Nor have I ever considered "Texan" any forest thick enough to warrant a trail.

And don't bother convincing me otherwise. It's not like mere evidence is going to change my mind. I still can't think "Texas" and "lake" in the same synapse, even after spending an entire weekend in Caddo Lake State Park. Try thought I might, it's like rubbing my head and patting my belly. The signals cross.

The same goes for Spanish moss. Spanish moss I've consigned to Mississippi, or maybe the fat-mustached stretches of southern Alabama. And green? I'd be more prepared to see green in Antarctica. At least iceberg-white is closer on the color wheel than the Texan orange I've grown up expecting. Texas should be lizard-toned. At its lushest, the color of Carolina clay. Not this.

Now, back in Missouri, my brain spins circles trying to recalculate the once simple formula, "Texas." The best it can do tonight, I observe, is to slice Texas like an earthworm into three wriggling parts.

First, Old Texas is still the same as it always was: Ford Country pick-ups and ass-kickings; dust and God and Republicans.

Austin Texas, second, is still a mirage -- an as-yet hearsay bubble of progressive folk musicians and environmental monks.

Finally, there's Caddo Lake: the Texas of good-natured Rice family reunions, cypress knees (which, if up to me, would be called "cypress snorkels"), and the dawning recognition -- thanks to a couple of Jen's social work books -- of the responsibility that comes with being a White, heterosexual, married, employed, educated, able-bodied, and utterly oblivious Protestant male. It's the Texas of watching Jen's grandmother cry over a lost husband, daughter, daughter-in-law. The Texas that can somehow hold a Prius on one end and a nature-loving Episcopalian uncle on the other. Cypress Texas. Green Texas.

Poppycock. I won't believe it.

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