THE FEATHERDUSTER

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Native Texan expresses innate love for home state

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I’ve been living in Texas my entire life. I was born in a local hospital, grew up in South Austin and have never once moved cities. And I have never yearned to live somewhere else in the United States.

My dad has been working at County Line for more than a decade now, and I have grown up and become a part of this company family that is so Texas-oriented. I have developed a protective demeanor toward the business and its owners, employees and customers, and I take pride in being able to say that I am a part of it.

That being said, I don’t have too much family in Texas. In fact, the majority of them live all across the U.S., and even in overseas countries. The only family I have that live in Texas besides my immediate family are my dad’s brother, his wife and their kids. And they don’t originally come from Texas, either. None of my family does. They are from Italy, and the Philippines, and Germany, and Arizona, and Iowa — and it is by nothing more than the desire to be in the music scene that drove my dad to move to Austin, and nothing more than the spontaneous curiosity that drove my mom here.

To me, Texas has always been nothing but perfect. Sure, I don’t like the heat in the summer. Sure, I’m not exactly fond of the racism that is so prominent in more rural parts of my state. And sure, our spring water may taste like limestone, but who cares? There’s something different about the atmosphere here, and something wildly special about the warmth Texans have to offer in their hospitality, country music, good food and good ‘ol Southern accents.

I could spend hours listening to local bands, from Austin or otherwise, and have grown up with the Austin and Texas music scene ever since I was born. My dad was a part of a local band, and because of this I have come to know all kinds of different Texan artists with their stories and their livelihoods — I’ve even met Gary Clark Jr. before he was famous!

Barbeque has been a part of my life since I was 5, and I have lived off of H-E-B products and spent my summers with a DQ Blizzard in my hand as I listen to the songs of the cicadas. My springs have been spent surrounded by buttercups, Indian paintbrushes and bluebonnets, and I have taken so many photos in fields of their blue that I could probably create a collage of another picture out of them

I have owned and worn a number of cowboy boots, took horseback riding lessons to the sound of unofficial Texas summer, and have spent my entire life sneezing and itching my eyes to the joy that is being around Texas allergens.

Oak trees look like home to me, and a Texas landscape is one I have memorized by look and feel and touch — one that I look out for and point to in movies and TV shows.

For the entirety of my schooling, I have used Dell computers, and had not even known for a very long time that schools from other states didn’t have them. I was the only kid in my class who actually really, truly enjoyed taking Texas history, and find it more interesting, even to this day, than U.S. history.

I have been to plenty of other states — Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, etc. — and not one has stuck to me the way Texas has. Sure, I’ve never spent as much time in another state as I have Texas, but people go to other states and fall in love with them in a matter of days or weeks, and I never have. When I hear a Midwestern accent, or a West Coast accent, I don’t blink. When I hear a Texas accent, my eyes light up. When I hear the names of other states, I yawn. When I hear the word “Texas” being spoken, I start listening.

To most, I must sound crazy. Kids — teenagers especially — usually want to get as far away from their hometown as possible, to feel a greater sense of freedom and have their parents’ watchful eyes too far away to focus in on them. And yet here I am, soaking in the rough edges of the town I have lived in my whole life, and completely disregarding these so-called boundaries that come in the form of my parents. It has always seemed insignificant to me, and I find that with age it only becomes more trivial.

And though I’ve always loved Texas, it wasn’t until recently that I truly realized how much I did.

I am currently studying Japanese. I have never been to Japan, but in the past couple of years the desire to go there has been steadily increasing, and with my realizing that I want to be a translator and a possible teacher in Japan, it has become more apparent to me that I may not always be in Texas. I have thought about where I might live after graduating a few times before, when I was in elementary or middle school, but could never really think of a place that I liked enough that I wanted to live there. Now I have a place I think I might want to live, and my Texas roots are mourning.

This state has been a place where I’ve always felt I belong, even though I’m from the part of it that waters down its true accent and leans more toward a Texas-poser city than one true to the state beginnings. I’ve grown up cursing the heat but relishing in the way Barton Springs and Deep Eddy feels on the hottest days of the year; I have watched as the rivalry between UT and A&M flared and died; I’ve spent full days at Six Flags and Schlitterbahn in my elementary and middle school years; I’ve said the Texas pledge of allegiance too many times to count in a lifetime.

When I see out-of-state license plates or out-of-towners, I join in on the playful bitterness and call them Yankees, and I perform my moral duty by calling Texas the best state in America. I watch “The Daytripper” with as much enthusiasm as if I were there, and I don’t pine for any other climate or living scene.

I’ve felt at home around Tex-Mex and Topo Chico and breakfast tacos, and have eaten so much Central Market gelato, Amy’s and Blue Bell ice cream and County Line homemade ice cream that I can call up the flavors of all of them perfectly on command. Hot summer days have been marked by Peter Pan Mini Golf and cowboy hats, and I have spent a lifetime with the taste of “howdy” and “y’all” on my tongue.

I’m comfortable here where I was born, where I have grown up, and where I will hopefully go to college and spend time figuring out how to achieve what I want to do in life. Even typing out the word “Texas” sparks some kind of affection in me, some kind of pride, because if there’s one thing about myself that I’ve always known, it’s that I’m a Texan.

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Native Texan expresses innate love for home state