Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dear Jon-Boy (a breakup letter to Texas)

Dear Jon-Boy,

I'm breaking up with you. I'm just done. I was driving on the loop around Abilene today and looked out to my left over the breathtaking nothingness that stretches to the south, and that was the final straw. I'm breaking up with you for good.

We've had a companionable three years together. At first, we were roommates of convenience, two strangers thrown together for a specific purpose and a specific, finite time. For the most part we drove each other nuts. You'd play your country twang, I'd groove to Neil Young and Hendrix. I'd long for eucalyptus and redwoods and you offered me mesquite "trees" and killer allergies. We'd hang out every once in a while, but that was mostly just so neither of us would have to eat alone. Come the weekends, we'd make a definite split in our own directions: you went to the two-step bars, I went to whatever small speck of nature I could find.

Somewhere along the way, though, it changed. I think it was the weekend we went to Junction to jump into the river. I gotta tell you, Texas, that weekend you were beautiful. The water was that unearthly, milky blue that always reminds me of Woolite. The sky was expansive and intricate. The rocks were bleached white; the plants were alien and interesting; the land, open and quiet. Even the chosen activity, cliff jumping, was new and exhilarating. I realized then, as I realize now, that since the "cliff" was more of a 15-foot river bank, even this experience was watered down and what we outsiders call "good for Texas," but at the time I was hungry for anything.

After that, we started a strained relationship. I knew I could never stay with you, and you knew I was always living with one eye toward the horizon, but it worked for a time. It's ironic: in this metaphor, I'm the tumbleweed. I was restless, but you were there, offering what comforts you could. Even those comforts strangled me, though. I was grateful for what peace I could achieve here, but I didn't want to be at peace. I didn't want you to be my home. I conceded my license plate -- it seemed the least I could do after two years living together -- but I hated you every second. To be fair, you have given me some wonderful people; I love my school and all the people I've met here. I don't think it's any mistake, though, that most of the people I feel most comfortable with aren't from here and aren't like you at all. We gave what we could to each other, but it was never enough, and we both knew it never would be.

I don't hate you as I once did, but I can also no longer pretend that everything's fine between us. Enough's enough. I know where I belong, I know who I belong to, and it's not you. I wish you all the best, I truly do, but I left my heart in San Jose, and this Saturday I'm going back to get it.

With love,


thislittlepig73 said...

Grace! Although I love Texas, what you wrote was beautiful. It's easy to forget that my home isn't lovely to everyone. I'm glad you're here, though - have a wonderful summer in CA and then come back to us!

Anonymous said...

Oh Grace, you spoke for so many of us non-natives! This one hit home--I understand completely! Very eloquent too!

Katie said...

Someday, perhaps you'll understand that that "breathtaking nothingness" provides a backdrop for some of the world's best sunsets.

Eloquently written, dear friend. Enjoy your summer in Cali. We'll miss you!

Adelle said...

Grace, that was marvelous. You need to seek publication for that little essay. Thanks for giving me and Peggy and great laugh this morning!

Christy said...


Seriously, publish it.

Bo and Pat said...

Add me to the list of those who seek your name in lights, or at least in bylines. I must point out, however, that the Texas soil has been good for you to bloom where you were planted, because my dear Grace, you have certainly bloomed. What joy to see the beautiful flower you are! 2 Cor. 2:14 comes to my mind.

That said, I must say that I personally will probably die in Texas, but having been blessed with those precious years in California I have asked that some of my ashes be scattered at Tahoe. If the images from the movie "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" have any validity, Bo and I will be on a ski lift looking down over Lake Tahoe or forever cruising Ridge Run. Love you. Have a wonderful summer, and remember, it's not the place, it's the people. God is good.