Seven and a half years.
Besides the state I grew up in, this is the longest I have lived anywhere.
When we first moved to Texas, things felt foreign. They have now become so familiar — of course when we are about to PCS and leave Texas for Alaska.
I joke to friends that I am dead inside because I don’t cry at movies and am not very emotional, but lately I find myself tearing up as I drive through canopies of trees lining the old streets of my San Antonio neighborhood and feeling glorious in the U-turn lane on the interstate exits.
I get weepy thinking about not shopping at H-E-B anymore. I feel on the verge of tears when I think about people in the future looking at me funny when I say “y’all” or how in Alaska I won’t be able to get drive-thru breakfast tacos any time of day.
Who have I become?!
If you have any idea what I’m talking about, there is a fair chance you have spent some time in Texas whether it was for training or a duty station. Or you have some annoying friends or family who have moved from Texas and won’t shut up about queso. Currently, Texas has 15 active duty military installations, as well as multiple Guard and Reserve Units.
My first experience with Texas was at the Houston Airport USO. I was a new military spouse trying to get to my soldier at FT. It was our first anniversary, and I got stuck in Bush Intercontinental Airport. The nice folks at the USO gave me my first taste of Texas charm when I was prepared for stereotypical loud, brash Texans.
Instead, I was met by a kind mother of a soldier who was volunteering at the USO and helped me find a hotel to stay the night as I waited for a delayed flight that would leave the next morning. I have spent a significant amount of time in that USO the last few years as we have traveled in and out of Texas. They continue to be as friendly as ever.
Reflecting on my time in the Lone Star State, I know that I’ve grown a lot as a woman and as a mother.
I am not the same person I was when I moved here. I’d like to think I’m bolder and stronger. Stressors of military life and motherhood have pushed me and forced me to grow and expand my tribe of friends.
I have learned to ask for help when I need it.
I was thinking of the silly rhyme that says what little girls and little boys are made of, and while I definitely don’t believe in that snakes and snails/sugar and spice stuff, I am starting to believe that I’m made of tacos and sweet tea. My husband makes fun of me because I don’t even drink sweet tea, but I told him everyone in Texas drinks enough for me, and I’ve just absorbed it into my skin at this point. It’s just part of the air in the summer. It’s my scent.
I have not loved everything about Texas. Roaches and other freaky bugs – I’m looking at you.
But when we talk to our girls about the place they were born and people we met and left here, we will tell them about some of the best things.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and I have met some of the biggest kindest hearts during our time here. My youngest won’t remember anything about living here, so I will tell her how when someone ran a red light and hit us, totaling our CR-V last summer, the thing that sticks with me is how kind a stranger was to let my girls sit in her car and play with toys while another man helped me find my glasses that flew off my face in the impact of the crash.
Texas, I love your beaches. People say if you want to go to a nice beach in Texas, keep driving until you get to Pensacola.
I disagree. I grew up in Utah, and I am not fancy. I had The Great Salt Lake, a salty lake with a shore covered in brine flies and tiny shrimp. So this girl from the landlocked West has been A-OK with Galveston, South Padre, and Corpus Christi. It’s no Hawaii, but a beach with warm water you can get to in a few hours has been great for our family.
We’ve been to two incredible Latin music concerts in San Antonio: Maná and Marc Anthony. I’ve heard the concert circuit in Alaska is a *bit* slower than the lower 48, so I’m glad we saw a few shows while we were here.
As summer was winding down and we found out our next duty station, we made a bucket list. I’m sad to report we still have not eaten our way through Texas or San Antonio, but we have really been trying.
Just ask my jeans.
When I bemoan the lack of Mexican food awaiting us at our new duty station, my 5-year-old cheerily reminds me, “We can make tacos at home!” I smile and try not to let her hear me say sadly under my breath, “Not like the tortillas at Taco Taco.”
So if you’re lucky enough to call Texas home for some amount of time while stationed at one of its many military bases, I hope you find some gems and joy like we have.
And like everyone has been telling me as we start to say our goodbyes, y’all come back soon!