Still in Abilene. Death is near.
As a side note, this is the furthest west I have ever been in my life! It feels like it, too, but maybe that’s just because I spent over two solid hours driving nearly due west last night to get here.
The scenery changes between here and Ft Worth. You start to see some landscape that looks like the kind of place John Wayne would hang out. Long stretches of flat and wide open spaces rise up into huge stair-like plateaus. Very cool.
I like living in Texas because it feels like I’m somewhere. Maine is just so remote, so far from everything, that no matter where you are you have a distinct sense of being in the middle of nowhere.Some people like that. I am not those people. Living in Texas, and especially living in a huge metropolitan area where you’re never any further than two miles from a Starbucks and/or a frozen yogurt place, you know you’re somewhere good. Being from the northeast also gives me a profound appreciation for all things southern. I love armadillos and red dirt. I love it when someone says “y’all” in a casual conversation and I’m the only one who seems to have noticed. Love how men wear cowboy boots at work or other formal situation and it’s totally appropriate and not even slightly ironic. I live more toward the Dallas side of the metroplex, where The Look is “expensive” more than “cowboy”, but I’m moving to Ft Worth soon where cowboy hats abound. It’s so cool!
One of my favorite things of all would have to be the names of Texas counties and towns. Aside from the cities that just make you feel like you’re the in the southwest (Abilene, Amarillo, Saginaw, Lubbock, El Paso, Wylie…), there are a lot of totally unique names you’re not going to find anywhere else. A lot of town’s names sound more like things than places. A few examples: Flower Mound, Grapevine, College Station, Trophy Club, Bee Cave, Little Elm, Rockwall, Buffalo Gap, Moss Hill, Grand Prairie, Elysian Fields. Who else but a Texan could come up with names like those?
There are also some names that make you think that someone in charge was either lazy or coming up on a deadline: guess where Texhoma is? That’s right, on the Oklahoma boarder. (There’s another one with the same name on the Oklahoma side of the line! That is one impressive use of the concept two birds one stone.) Okay now read that last part again, replacing the words “Texhoma” and “Oklahoma” with “Texarkana” and “Arkansas.” Same deal. In the mextroplex you can find Dalworthington Gardens, which is a delightful combination of Dallas, Ft Worth, and Arlington: the two bookends and the center. Who else but a Texan.
Another favored source of inspiration is quite clearly a baby name book. Texas counties are especially notable in this regard. Collin, Angelina, Madison, Travis, Austin, Lee, Dawson, Floyd, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Tom Green, Victoria. And those are just some of the first names, I didn’t even bother to list the counties given last names!
And then there are the ones that just…. well they’re weird, really. No point mincing words. They’re nuts. If you find yourself looking to plan a vacation in Texas any time soon, be sure you check out such places as Gun Barrel City, Humble, Dime Box, Cut & Shoot, DISH, Telephone, Telegraph, Study Butte, Orange, Negro Crossing, White Settlement, Oatmeal, and Raisin.
I couldn’t make this stuff up.
You’re not going to find a place called Hoop & Holler in Maine. Or anywhere in New England for that matter. Which is not to say that northeastern town names don’t have their own charm: European sounding places like Derry, Manchester, Portsmouth; the Native American names Madawaska, Piscatiquis, Kennebunk… All very nice in their own right. But come on… who doesn’t want to at least see what a place like Ding Dong, TX looks like? I know I sure do!
So yeah. This place is awesome. And just between you and me, I genuinely hope that Oatmeal, TX and Raisin, TX are right next to each other.