It's Not Perfect...But It's Home
Yesterday I was reading a post by a blogger whose site I normally like and she spoke most regretfully of having to travel from another (and apparently better) part of Texas to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She used the word "repellent" to describe her destination and made reference to the phenomenon of "big hair" and how the females here were "wack" about their coifs. She was fairly certain she was deserving of her readers' pity.
To add insult to injury, the comments of her readers weren't terribly kind, either. Someone even went as far as to repeat some crapulous heresay about unnamed business leaders in Dallas who "toasted" the Kennedy assassination at a gathering of their own kind on that tragic day in 1963 and another used the term "bushleaguers" in referencing lawyers from this area. Of course, I could take comfort in the words of one pinhead who said that the only thing good about his/her years in Fort Worth were the honky-tonks. Clearly those were the words of a closet drunk, so I don't take much stock in that last bit of nonsense.
Still...it pissed me off....A LOT.
I'll be the first to admit that this state has its share of problems and that some of them are in the city where I live. Actually, it's not the best time in the world to say you hail from ANYWHERE in the Lone Star State and that includes the provenance of this particular blogger. But I'm willing to admit to a few things that make this part of the state a less than ideal place to be.
If Texas is a big RED dress worn by a Republican society matron, then it's held together at the waist by the Bible Belt and D/FW is pretty close to its buckle. People here say 'aint, and--yes-- it sounds awful. Many people here voted for Proposition 2, I'm sorry to say. Mr. Half and I voted against it. We weren't alone, but we lost anyway, and that sucks the big pudding, people. There are women with big, stiff hair--but they're mostly of a certain generation who lunch at the Neiman's tearoom and carry proper handbags and use walkers to get around. They're harmless. It's not the easiest place to be different, I'll grant you that, but if you have even a speck of the maverick spirit that feeds the pioneer mythology of this region, you'll probably wind up happy anyway.
Yes, there are locals (in this very city!) who totally buy the idea that everything is bigger and better in Texas, and I'm sure that gets grating after a bit, but folks here can't claim to live in the first state to guarantee women the right to vote or even gays and lesbians the right to marry, and the Good Old (White)Boy system still trips us up on occasion, so people brag about what they can. Whatever. Still, it's not all cow punching, horse-riding, shit-kicking here. It's not all puckered-assed society matrons and NASCAR and Larry the Cable Guy. Really. I swear!
But I'm not going to counter all those blogger/comments with a big Power Point presentation that extols all the virtues of Dallas/Fort Worth, although there are plenty. I wasn't even born here, so I think I have some ability to be neutral. Instead, I'll just say this:
For better or for worse, some of those people of whom you speak so disparagingly are my neighbors. They're my co-workers and people who sit with me on the PTA. They're the friends who bring casseroles when loved ones die or bring my kids home from school when I've got the flu. They're also family.
I might not always think well of this place and I even occasion to speak my mind about it, but it chaps my butt when outsiders start whaling on everyone here with their sweeping generalizations and judgemental attitudes. Tolerance is a two-way street and while our team corners the market on preaching it, it never hurts to practice while your jaws are flapping.
I know firsthand how tough it is up here. It was touch-and -go during the election when our patriotism was questioned more than once (and our yard signs stolen four times...but that's another post), but the same people who think I might be headed down the wrong political path (and I'm more positive than ever that I'm NOT)...or worse yet...headed straight to Hell...are the same folks who laugh at my jokes and love my husband and kids and buy my art and give me a shoulder when I need one. Yes, indeedy! Around these parts, the same people who will strongly hint over dinner that you might be a Socialist will still hug your neck and send you home with half a leftover pie all wrapped up nice and neat. Can you top that?
Sure...it would be great if we could all sit around the ashram eating our sprouts and going into a simultaneous yogic "Down Dog" (I'm down with all of that, y'all! I love my yoga.) and be on the same wavelength and all, but the REAL character building doesn't start until your community welcomes EVERYONE, and that includes those who make it harder for you to be who you really are...but who love you anyway. And when that community's attacked by some asshat with only half an idea about you or the place where you happen to live....well....someone needs to get schooled.
I'm just sayin'.