An Open Letter to Texas

Dear Texas,
Since it looks like we’ll be spending time together this fall, I thought I should introduce myself. You’ll know me first and foremost by my car, THE CLAW, which will cross your borders sometime the morning of August 30th. THE CLAW needs no further introduction. You’ll know me second by what I write about you, which will be place- and people-based observations of my choosing. Whatever you present to me is fair game, Texas, though I’ll also be making use of your local public libraries for proper history texts.
There is something you should know before I take up residence in your great city of Houston and that is that I am engaged in a continuous and glorious love affair with another state–the state of Alaska. You are not my Number 1, Texas, though I understand “second best” is not your preference. The great state of Alaska is known to induce in me endless bouts of walking, coincidental magic, spontaneous cultural studies, amateur scientific study, and physical endurance challenges. Oh Texas, if you haven’t been to Alaska yet, surely you should plan a trip.
That said, you are the only state on the tour thus far whose very reputation demands a letter prior to my arrival. It feels as though I’m readying to meet a future husband’s family: Will I be accepted? Will I stand out? Is what everyone has been telling me actually true?
And what has everyone been saying, you might ask. Well, Texas, please do not take offense, as the information I’m about to share with you comes not from my own lips but from the minds of others, appropriately or inappropriately informed as they may be. In short, I hear tell that you:
  • have a large ego
  • sometimes consider seceding from the Union
  • have very, very rich people alongside very, very poor people
  • like oil
  • (a lot)
  • endorse Cowboy hats
  • in general refuse rights to the immigrant population upon which your economy so greatly depends
  • are suffering from a drought
  • take very seriously your role as “gatekeepers” between the United States and Mexico along your borders
  • enjoy a good Polka dance
  • have lots of snakes and creatures with exoskeletons that can kill with one bite/sting/stab
  • have some pretty hills
Phew. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s let primary experience and a little book-work be my guide henceforth. What surprises do you have up your sleeve? Please be good to me, as the air-conditioning in THE CLAW is broken and a bone in my foot is broken as well. With a little love, I think we can make this work just fine.
Katey & THE CLAW
Showing 3 comments
  • Heidi Willis

    I lived in Texas for several years and felt, when I was there, like I'd arrived at home. Everything on your list is true, but you also should know that the people there are some of the kindest on earth (although i haven't been to Houston, but I suspect a Texan is a Texan), their food is to die for, and if you don't love country music now, you just might by the time you leave (this is hard to believe, I know. I told my parents when I moved there that if I started listening to country it was time to lasso me and drag me home to the east coast. But I do love a good country song now).

    It gets under your skin in a way you don't expect, which is why nearly all of my novels and short stories take place there. Character is not in short supply!

    I hope you come to like it almost as much as Alaska, and find great inspiration for writing there!

  • Mendy (Hillpoet)

    I am a Texan, born in Austin, the state capitol. My youngest sister lives in Dallas. My brother has been the minister at Alamo Heights Pres. Church in San Antonio for nearly 30 years. He also teaches karate to poor kids who live in that neighborhood.

    I lived in Houston and on the outskirts of Houston as a child between the ages of 2 and 9. We were proud to be Texans, even as children. There were mimosas and adobe and sidewalks and elementary schools you could walk to. In many ways, it is no different than any other large city, except flat. Very, very flat.

    I believe too many Texans are see through the faces of their politicians, which truly are some of the worst in the world. As much as I love the Lone Star, being a Texan, and still feel like one deep down, I would never vote for one.

    I could go on and on, but mostly agree with what was said by your reader above. You may find it hard to leave. All that you've heard and seen is true, but there is so much you have not seen or heard yet. Did you know that Naomi Shihab Nye lives in San Antonio? That fact alone should alter your image somewhat! You should seek her out if you get the chance and talk about kids learning poetry. Love from the gal with "a heart big as the Texas sky." So says Leigh.

  • Katey Schultz

    Heidi and Mendy – This was just the kind of response I'd been hoping for. I'm so curious about such a large state with such polarities and intense history. And I'm not even there yet – but I can sense that I'll have to face my own stereotypes and hold them up against the realities of my experiences there, to try and settle into something more of an honest opinion. I thank you both for sharing what you appreciate about Texas and I have no doubt I'll find things to fall in love with there. I'm quite excited already! ~Katey

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