Have you ever woken up and suddenly found you are no longer home?
I don’t mean like actually in a different home, because in that case ya probably wanna get some help. Trust me. Or cut down on the nightly Ambien. Or is that the one that makes you sleep eat? I feel like Oprah had a segment on that in the early 00’s. I don’t know, clearly I am rambling and stalling a bit.
Texas wasn’t my idea. We moved from Florida to Texas 4 years ago for career opportunities for my husband. Although I initially scoffed at the move, I knew in my gut Florida wasn’t my home. So I jumped in with both feet and totally embraced Texas. I even bought that cheap Texas flag wall art from Home Goods to prove I was legit y’all. I started using Y’ALL. I joined a campaign for the Democratic challenger for our local House of Reps. seat and made wonderful friends and ate Whataburger and was ready to set the world on fire (in a good, non-global warming way). Texas was home.
Until it wasn’t.
I can’t decide if it always felt like the area I live in is extreme, if it’s become more so, or if I’m only noticing it now that I am more awake to white supremacy, inequality, etc. It’s like when you have an itch you can’t scratch so you tell yourself to stop thinking about it, so naturally all you do is think about it. You can’t stop. You noticed it, it’s there, it’s not going away. It felt like I was suddenly seeing Confederate Flags flying out of the back of pickup trucks more frequently, “Back the Blue” signs multiplying after yet another murder of a Black individual in another part of the country, Q decals next to bumper stickers advertising a local church next to an AR-15 “gun family” next to a “come and take it” sticker. It gives me a bit of whiplash trying to make sense of it. I mean, I know, it’s white Christian nationalism, but to see it and live among it is – a lot.
It wasn’t just politics. It was the pandemic and the sheer amount of anti-science, anti-maskers in the area. It was the state’s electrical grid breaking the hell down during a snowpocalypse. It’s when I realized “Southern hospitality” was kind of smoke and mirrors. And then it was a little, non-partisan school board race that turned ugly with”whisper campaigns” and blatant attempts to other and discredit the most qualified candidate in the race – who happens to be a Black woman.
It just kept piling up. I’m just tired y’all.
I’m tired of the fight. And part of me feels guilty for being burnt out. I haven’t been fighting that long! It’s a privilege to pause or even move away from the fight. There’s a small part of me that wants to stay and watch Texas change – be a part of the change, but I’d also like some peace, prettier scenery, and to raise my children around more likeminded people. I’m not under any illusion that there is a progressive, crunchy organic no-stir peanut butter, utopia for me in another state – nor would I want to live there. Different opinions are good. I just want to work from the same set of facts. I’m sick of battles that should have been resolved by now. How are we still debating if an “Indian” mascot is harmful? How are we fighting for basic diversity and inclusion training in schools? How do we have so much LGBTQA+ intolerance in schools? Are we really arguing that public school is too “anti-Christmas?” We have the highest number of megachurches per capita! It is exhausting.
Again I don’t know when I woke up and everything around me started looking distorted – like Fun House mirrors – but it did – and it’s ugly, it’s depressing and I can’t unsee it.
All of this is why roughly a year ago I surprised my husband by telling him I was open to him taking job interviews outside of Texas. I really do believe things happen for a reason. Colorado kept coming up in conversation with others and suddenly a job opportunity appeared in Colorado. To some extent I knew this would happen. Did I manifest it? I don’t know. But I’m not that surprised that it’s Colorado of all places.
But I’m also scared because I don’t trust my judgement entirely. I live in a “good” town, with “top-rated schools.” But what defines good? What can’t you see by simply reading school scores? I’m afraid of making the same mistake again. Of chasing home and never finding it. Of always feeling out of place wherever I live.
Maybe I just haven’t lived in a truly purple/blue state in awhile (more than a decade in fact). Maybe what I’m missing is being in an area where we don’t have to talk in code to suss out if someone is likeminded. Where you don’t get harassed for supporting a different candidate for a school board race. Where being a Democrat isn’t akin to a scarlet letter. Where there is work to do, because there is always work to do, but there’s an actual chance to see your values reflected in state laws and in a healthy percentage of the population around you.
I just want to find home. To see less Trump flags and Patriot Party talk. I want to live in a state that doesn’t have an unhealthy obsession with itself. I’d like cooler summers, mountain views, the childlike joy that comes with the first snowfall of the year. Maybe I’m chasing comfort. Peace. I don’t know, but it’s not in Texas. I don’t think it ever has been. It’s like a relationship you really want to make work because you already share so many friends and it’s not like you’re getting any younger. But it’s not making you happy. So it’s time to move on.
So I’m moving on.