In 1983 Ed Bruce and Ronnie Rogers co-wrote the lyrics to a song Ed later recorded – one that became a Top 10 Country Hit and is now a classic I hear regularly on my Legends radio and tv stations.
“…My first taste of Texas still lingers in my heart and on my tongue…” ends each chorus.
While the words are really a love song for a girl with blue eyes and golden hair, they remind me today of my feelings as I leave Texas for the second time in my life. My first taste of Texas…I can’t even remember because I was born there on an Easter Sunday sixty-eight years ago this month. My date of birth – the 21st. of April – is also San Jacinto Day and for a Texan it’s a day of commemoration for Sam Houston’s defeat of the Mexican General Santa Anna which liberated the territory and led to the establishment of the Republic of Texas.
I left Texas the first time in 1968 to do what many young people in the late 1960s wanted to do: get out-of-town, get away from family and home and become my own person. I wanted to be independent. That seems strange nowadays in a time when young people appear to be more interested in staying put and hanging out in groups of friends and remaining close to their parents and discovering their brave new worlds on a computer screen. What a difference a couple of generations make.
I never planned to be away from Texas for more than forty years when I left the first time, but then that’s how life is sometimes. The vicissitudes of life, as my daddy used to call those circumstances which altered our courses and over which we had little control, intervened and I didn’t return to my home state until 2010. Sweet new home Carolina.
I call these last four years in Montgomery, Texas, the Second Chance Years and they were years of redemption and reconciliation for me, but they came with a high price tag. I was as prepared and ready for the deaths of my Old Ones as we can ever be, but I was unprepared for the aftermath and the wounds that wouldn’t heal. I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck.
Every spring, though, I had the wildflowers that made the landscape in southeast Texas spectacular. The bluebonnets were not so plentiful as I remembered them to be sixty years ago, but what they were – were “cherse”as Spencer Tracy said about Katherine Hepburn in the movie Pat and Mike. “There ain’t much meat on her, but what there is – is cherse.” The bluebonnets brought color to my soul as surely as they painted the brown pastures struggling to turn green.
And to add to my good fortune, I had three wild young boys who lived down the street from me and typically visited with the expectation of a full cookie jar in my kitchen. It was impossible to picture a bleak future in the midst of the effervescence of inquisitive little boys who wanted to know Why about everything and oh yes, by the way, can I have another cookie please.
Listening to the conversations of a classroom full of four-year-olds on Grandparents Day restored my faith in the possibilities of a world where people actually liked each other and resolved their problems with friendly negotiations or, at least, peaceful hostilities. Watching a five-year-old boy learning to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time was almost as magical a moment for me as it was for him. Little wheels keep on rolling.
Wheels do, indeed, continue to roll, and I find myself saying goodbye to Texas again in 2014. The Second Chance Years are relocating to South Carolina where they have more work to do, but my second taste of Texas will linger in my heart and on my tongue.
P.S. I finished my third book I’ll Call It Like I See It: A Lesbian Speaks Out in 2012 while a bi-stateual and many of the stories in the book are about the Second Chance Years. If you enjoy this blog, you’ll love the book! You can order your copy here.