Three years ago, a younger, more idealistic me considered the great country – I mean state – of Texas the last place on earth I would ever choose to live. Two weeks ago, an older, more realistic me made the 12 hour drive from Denver to Abilene to begin my third year at ACU.
I came to Texas determined to cling to my Coloradan culture and leave, degree in hand, as quickly as possible. Much to my surprise, Texas – and particularly Texans – have earned a special place in my heart.
But before I risk betraying my native state to one of sweet tea and rodeos, I should mention a few things I love about Colorado:
For one, these last few days of searing, triple-digit record highs remind me how much I love Colorado’s near-perfect weather – its blue skies, cool mountain air and occasional snowfall.
Then there’s the scenery, which I love more than almost anything else. Abilene’s mesquite trees and cultivated plains have a certain beauty of their own, but I’d choose aspen trees and snow-capped Rocky Mountain vistas in a heartbeat.
I also love the people who call Colorado home. Even if the rest of the country sees us as barefoot, granola-eating hippies who sit around campfires listening to Jack Johnson, I think we’re on to something with our trail-mix, North Face attire, easygoing lifestyle and sense of adventure.
What is so interesting, however, is that it took a move to Texas for me to realize all of that. Living in another part of the country has taught me more than I ever would have imagined, especially about myself and the place I call home.
On this campus we often discuss how important it is to travel, how critical it is to interact with other groups of people, how valuable an experience it is to leave home, and so forth. While it is absolutely true that traveling is crucial to how we see the world and understand other people, what we often don’t hear is how leaving home illuminates our perceptions of home itself.
When I go home to Colorado, I notice things that previously escaped my attention. I listen to how people talk and interact, look at how they dress, watch what they do for fun, and wonder how their lives might be different if they lived somewhere else – how my life is different for having lived somewhere else.
Much to the dismay of my friends in Texas, I refuse to adopt even the slightest accent and remain convinced that Colorado is better. Secretly, I know, all Texans wish they lived in Colorado – and I suspect their often over-exaggerated state pride is simply an attempt to hide what they all know to be true.
I can also assure them, though, that I would not have any grounds for such an argument if they hadn’t so readily shared their state with me. I confess to a growing fondness for Texas, from its barbecue and cowboy boots, to the overflowing hospitality and generosity of its proud citizens.
And while I plan to move back to Colorado when I graduate, y’all are welcome to come visit anytime.