photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Head vs. Heart

I always feel so much better when I'm not here.

Whenever we're in Denton, or Austin, or Houston, or pretty much anywhere not East Texas, mentally I'm so much more relaxed and happy. Anywhere I don't feel like I have to don mental armor just to leave my yard to survive the almost constant onslaught of FOX News in every waiting room and restaurant, the never-ending parade of bumper stickers proudly proclaiming ignorant and outright hateful statements about pretty much every single social issue out there, having to walk into a board meeting at work and having financial decisions weighed not by how much money there is in the bank and the profit/loss trends of our business but by, "Lets wait and see what Obama is going to do to the economy", walking into a room full of people and having someone say, "Well, we all gotta watch what we say now...the LIBERAL is here" and they're not poking fun- everyone looks at you like you're the Enemy.

It just gets freaking old.

Even up on Oklahoma City, surrounded by old Baptist ladies, when one of them asked me sweetly if I knew Jesus, she was A-OK with my answer that I was raised Lutheran. When I moved down here I was flat-out told that "Lutheran is a cult." Nothing but Baptist counts, and all those old ladies in OKC would be labeled BINO's. (Baptist in Name Only)

We drive three hours one-way every single week to be in a home school group that believes in EVILution and who doesn't think gay people are going to hell.

"Why don't you move if you're so unhappy?"

Because I always feel so much better when I'm here.

Whenever we're in Denton, or Austin, or Houston, or pretty much anywhere not East Texas,I can't seem to physically 'settle'. Our friends and like-minded people are in all those other places, and when I'm away (and a lot of the time when I'm home) I look at real estate and take in the scenery and try to settle myself there. I can see the beauty in pretty much any environment and have always been able to- the harsh but resilient desert, gently rolling plains that accentuate the sky, any coastline or water anywhere, even the terrifying mountains are beautiful...from really far away.

And I think, "If I just look hard enough, I'll find enough to love about this place and be able to call it home."

And then we come back to East Texas- the gigantic trees, hills, water, so much like my childhood and young adult home of Wisconsin, but without the death-dealing bone-cracking snotcicle-inducing winters. And I know I'm home here; have been home here since I got here almost 20 years ago. We are fortunate to have brief stewardship of a tiny chunk of this place and I walk over our meager 12 acres of woodland and wetland, creekbank and hillside and know I'm Home.

As soon as we cross into this particular mix of pines and oaks, water and hills, I actually physically relax and sigh deeply.

So I've been stuck between my head and my heart.

Lately, with the push to Turn Texas Blue and the wonders of the interwebs, we've been in contact with like-minded people crouched in fear hiding out who also live in really Red and regressive areas of Texas- been to dinner with some in Denton, had coffee with one here in Tyler, was looked at at the Henderson County Democrats meeting like I was an Ivory-billed Woodpecker when I said I live in Brownsboro and I'm a democrat because 'there ARE no Democrats in Brownsboro!' and last night had dinner with almost two dozen of 'em...right here in Tyler!

Just to spend an evening talking to people and sharing our stories which are way more than about 'living Blue in a Red state'- this Shiny Buckle of the Bible Belt is notorious for being as close-minded and unforgiving as any Taliban- and still be right here, well lemme tell you- was some sort of special.

Oh, don't get me wrong- I was highly skeptical when the organizer told me, "And they said they'd give us the room for groups for FREE!" That smelled like either a trap (and yes- I did check for an alternative exit other than the main door to the room), or proof that they wanted us all where we couldn't 'infect or offend' the other diners. Yes. It's that bad here.

But to be around people who are aware that Texas hasn't always been Red (a common refrain here, uttered loud and proud is "You'll NEVER turn Texas Blue!" Baby- I moved here only 2 decades ago and the first election here voted for Ann Richards. Gimme a break. Mass amnesia?)

Fun fact- from 1848 till 1980, Texas voted strongly Democrat in all but four Presidential elections. "Turn" Texas Blue? It's been Blue up till the last two decades.

So, last night was more than just dinner for us.

It was a beacon of hope.

I now know that there are others out there within reach. And that I just need to look hard enough to find them.

Texas WILL return Blue. That's a given. No matter how much they gerrymander and bully and thump us all on the heads with Bibles, the demographics are changing and that's not going to stop anytime soon.

And no matter how much they try to stop it, the Far Right will be left behind. The very people who embrace and say they live by 'survival of the fittest' haven't looked in the mirror lately.

It's called evolution, baby.

1 comment:

  1. You put words to so many of the thoughts that have been stomping thru my head all day! Thank you! For 25 years, I lived in Tyler, had my office here, but I worked, had another office and apartment in Dallas. I remember nights where I would cry silently as I headed East on 110. Do get in touch. Cecilia