I was born in El Paso, and grew up in Dallas. I spent the last 4 years of my life in Texas living in the mid-cities area – a collection of suburbs connecting Dallas and Ft. Worth.
I’m a Texan, through and through. To this day, if someone asks me where I’m from, I’ll tell them, “I live in Podunk, Ohio but I’m from Texas.”
I was 42 when I left Texas and moved to Ohio, and I hated it. I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly homesick I was. It didn’t help that I went from a metropolitan area of over 3 million people to a small city of barely 73,000 – heck, the suburb where I lived in Texas was nearly that big. Worse yet, the only decent ethnic food in the area I now live is Italian – if you want French or Thai or Mexican or Vietnamese or Colombian or Middle Eastern or, gee, anything that isn’t pizza or pasta (well, maybe German), you better learn to cook it yourself, because it pretty much doesn’t exist here. There are exactly 3 ethnic markets in our area; one Mexican, one Asian, and one Halal – all approximately the size of my walk-in closet (you think I kid). You have to spend $20 at the Asian market before they’ll take a debit or credit card.
Don’t even get me started on what passes for barbecue here.
Dallas has more shopping malls per capita than any other city in the world…Podunk has one. The tallest building downtown is a whopping eight stories tall.
The area we moved to is also pretty insular; in Dallas, there are a lot of people from not just all over the country, but from all over the world. Here, it’s not uncommon for young people to move into a house down the street from their parents when they leave home. And I’d never been met with so many cold shoulders as I had when we moved to Podunk – it was literally years before we made friends here, beyond our co-workers and a lovely woman I’d actually met online years before. To this day I get asked, “Why on earth did you move here??”
I guess it just turned out that we weren’t looking in the right places for friends, and it took changing the way we eat to meet them.
They’re called farmers, and they are just the nicest, warmest people. In. The. Whole. World.
We friends with our beef farmer, hog farmer, poultry farmer, vegetable farmer; we’ve made friends with a lovely lady who makes artisan goat cheeses. We’re friends with our butchers. We found someone who grows the best damn watermelon in the area, as well as someone who not only grows a dazzling array of winter squashes (and sells them dirt cheap), but raises the tastiest goats you’d ever hope to find.
They all think we’re a little off our rockers. Which makes them pretty smart, too.
I’ve become quite attached to these people, and while I was becoming attached to them, I became attached to the entire area because you simply can’t separate these people from the land. And I surprised myself recently with the realization that I don’t dream of moving back to Texas any more; bluebonnet season may be spectacular, but so is autumn in Cuyahoga Valley. Downtown Oak Cliff may be full of history and character, but so is downtown Wadsworth – and you don’t have to worry about being mugged. People may not drive with any sense of urgency here, but I never have to worry about the traffic on I-635, either. A 45-minute trip to have dinner in Dallas used to be nothing; nowadays, a 45-minute trip to Cleveland for dinner calls for an overnight stay.
Somehow in the last couple of years, this became home. I’d like to stay awhile.