Texas and the complexity of the hospitable South

I had a very strong opinion of Texas before going there. It wasn’t even on the plan but somehow I got talked into it. And I can honestly say that I loved Austin. Houston not so much. What I really want to talk about is my special evening with my new Texan friends. In the end, they were kind of everything I was told a Texan was supposed to be. Both good and bad.

I was drinking a beer with my new friend on the back porch when her husband came home. And he looked at me and said “you are drinking my beer ? On my back porch ? Chatting with my wife ?”. A pause, and then, with a big smile and a tap on my back “ah, you are FAMILY now ! if you ever need anything you can always call us”. And that’s all it took. From then on I was their best friend. They took me with them on the birthday diner, and I slept in their daughter’s bedroom, and somehow I ended up going out partying with them and their friends. And that night says it all. I arrived there and everybody was insanely friendly “you come from EUROPE, woow, what are you DOING here of all places ? You want a drink ? Let me get you a beer”. And asked cute questions and were interested in what I had to say. Drove me around, paid for my drinks, were just so completely and perfectly lovely. And this is the south. The south, in what I experienced of it, is full of kind hearted people, ready to drop everything and help you out. Opening their homes, cooking heavy food for you, telling stories. It’s about belonging to a community and the simple stuff in life.

But south is ALSO the rest of that evening. “So, I heard you didn’t have a real good opinion of Texas before coming ? How come ?”. Well you know. Back where I come from we always think Texas is the worst state. You know with guns and … “Guns ? Yeah, guns are important. I mean I have 4 of them upstairs. You got to be able to defend yourself”. Mm, ok. And then it was a lot about all those immigrants coming in to steal their jobs, even though they come to collect the food stamps in Cadillacs (“every one of them I swear !”). I was asked if I had a boyfriend, and then, with a suspicion frown, if I had a girlfriend. Then they talked about the confederate flag and even between themselves they were not quite clear on whether or not it’s ok to have it in your garage.

I guess what I am trying to say is, I really loved my experiences in Texas, and in the South in general. I found people absolutely lovely, so ready to help me out, so open and lay back. But that evening made me wonder if I was able to experience all those things because I was a cute, white, young female. And I just wondered for a second if my black, Mexican or gay friends would have as much good luck here as I did. And that made me sad.

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Street art in Austin, Texas

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One thought on “Texas and the complexity of the hospitable South

  1. That’s a pretty good take on what Texas is like. A big, warm, open, friendly place….as long as you don’t dig too deep. And Austin is far more progressive than the rest of the state.

    Like

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