I live in Ireland, but I’m headed home to Texarkana.
I said a version of this last week waiting in line for a flight to Dallas from Philadelphia with a fellow TXK-an, statistical anomaly thy name is airport, and was treated to wry side eye and a comment about getting out and being dragged back. Whatever platitude I managed after almost 20 hours awake, it probably wasn’t coherent, so now with a little sleep under my belt and a tiny cat at my hip, let’s try again, shall we?
I am a creature of the cult of Texas. I was born a month before “God Blessed Texas” hit the airwaves, and King George’s (George Strait to the uninitiated) “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” was an anthem for a childhood innocent enough to not know why former partners might go crazy or call the cops on an old lover. When I was thirteen and angry for one of those inscrutable reasons teenagers get angry, my mother bought me a miniature rose bush with yellow blooms. To this day yellow roses are my favorite. In college we two stepped to “Texas Angel”, “She’s like Texas”, and “My Texas”. We raised glasses on March 2, Texas Independence Day, and sang every word to “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas.”
So yes, Texas will always be home. My boots are sunk deep in the iron-rich clay that gave my hometown its name. But Ireland is where I live, and where I love to be.
In many ways it is a fitting second home for a Texan. They have their own cult of country, one that I identify with on many levels: from a history that dwarfs my own, to a national pride that has led them to be one of the most progressive countries on earth. The morning after the 8th amendment was repealed, I joked that it was nice to wake up in a country that was moving forward with the world, instead of backwards against it. A poor joke, one I do not truly believe.
Over everything, under everything, Texas is where my books are, a library assembled across a short lifetime that just last night I sifted through to see if there’s anything appropriate for small children should the cousins coming after Christmas need entertainment. I have Calvin & Hobbs, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Shakespeare for Young People, so I think we’ll be okay.
Texas is muscadine wine on a summer afternoon, it’s mosquitoes down in Galveston bred to resist cold, it’s bad beaches and long drives, and where anything can be battered and fried and covered in gravy. It’s Mexican food, our version of Mexican food, and a fiddle for every band. It’s half the poetry I write and a third of my casual conversation. It’s where I get to wear bleach stained flannel and ragged jeans and hang clothes on the line on a crisp December day because today, that’s all that needs doing.
And maybe someday I will leave Texas and never live here again, but it will always be home. So yes, side-eye giver in an airport: I live in Ireland and am currently home in Texarkana. Home in the city that gave birth to Scott Joplin, where Johnny met June, where our serial killer was never caught- fuel for many a sleepover scare. Home where the water tastes better.
You got a problem with it?
“God Blessed Texas”, Little Texas, 1993.
“All my Ex’s Live in Texas”, George Strait, 1987
“Texas Angel”, Honeybrown, 2001
“She’s Like Texas” Josh Abbot Band ft. Pat Green, 2010
“My Texas” Josh Abbot Band, 2012
“If You’re Gonna Play in Texas”, Alabama, 1984
Songs I should’ve mentioned:
“Ohio(Come back to Texas)”, Bowling for Soup, 2005
“Austin”, Blake Shelton, 2001
“Texas (When I Die)”, Tanya Tucker, 1977
“Amarillo By Morning”, George Strait, 1983
“Luckenboch, Texas”, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, 1977