Texas. The state directly to our south that permeates bigger and better just by the mere mention of its name. Like so many in the state of Oklahoma, my thoughts on Texas are viewed through the rose-colored glasses of college football. I’ve lived in Oklahoma long enough that a Red River Rivalry mention instantly perks my ears towards the general direction of a corn dog at the State Fair. Outside of NCAA collegiate athletics, I think I like Texas. There some good folk down there. Chances are that you’ll find me making the three hour trip to Dallas at least a dozen times a year. I love the wild openness of the west plains. I admire the melting pot of diversity contained within its vast borders. I watch the Dallas Stars on Fox Sports SW from the comfort of my own home. I love the border towns neighboring on Mexico. I like their BBQ. I love their country/folk musicians. Generally speaking, Texas is a vast country adrift in the United States. It’s also a place I’m fond of.
John Steinbeck, the Pulitzer Prize winning author (Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice And Men, etc. etc.), wasn’t a Texan, but rather a California kid. He, like me, found the mystique of Texas to be fascinating. In his incredible road trip memoir that featured Steinbeck and his poodle Charley (Travels With Charley; read it, it’s fantastic), meandering through the back-roads of Texas in a travel camper, wrote an incredible summation of the state. He said:
“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans.”
I admire his humble brag of a state that he was unfamiliar with in the early 60’s. I also admire his spot-on description that still rings true in 2013.