I was born in Slaton, Texas in June of 1962 in a little community hospital. Slaton is a small farming community outside of Lubbock, Texas – an area with lots of cotton farming, oil pump jacks, and cattle ranching in the surrounding area. Lubbock is mostly remembered as the home of Buddy Holly, the location of Texas Tech University, and as the topic of Mac Davis’ song, “Texas in my Rearview Mirror.” It is part of the Llano Estacado in the northwestern part of the state. It is known for cattle – lots of cattle. There is even a story floating around that Lubbock’s City Council once hung little green scented car freshener trees all around the cattle pens in answer to complaints about the smell.
Lubbock is also known for the 1951 Life Magazine publication of photos of “The Lubbock Lights,” a series of photos showing a V-shaped unexplained light configuration in the night sky. And it is known for chuck-wagon cook-offs, Old West celebrations, great Tex-Mex food, fantastic football, and wonderful views of the plains of Texas. It is the birthplace of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, Joe Ely, Chace Crawford, and Delbert McClinton, among others.
We were living in Lubbock during the 1971 F5 tornado that took the lives of 26 persons and did $125 million in damage. I remember my parents were out that night and neighbors took us into their storm shelter to survive the storm. The city was rebuilt then and is a thriving community now. Today there are windmill farms and wineries sprinkling the landscape along with the farms and ranches that are the norm. It is flat as the eye can see – so the sunsets and vistas are spectacular.
But it can also seem monotonous driving through the region for the uninitiated. When I took a roommate home once from graduate school in Kansas, as we drove from Amarillo to Lubbock she screamed with glee after an hour on the road, “We’re turning, we’re turning!” Ok, the road is pretty straight.
But the thing I love about being from Texas – despite the fact that we just do things BIG down there – is the pride of the folks who live there. They love their Cowboys or Texans, Mavericks or Rockets, and their Big 12 sports – Tech, UT, OU, K-State, KU or whatever team they follow. They love their music and culture, their art and just being from Texas. They have big hair, big stories, big mouths, and big pride (not everyone has equal big hair or mouths but I am speaking in generalizations here).
To be honest, though, there have been times when I have not enjoyed being from Texas. The Redneck sexism that still is a part of Texas drives me crazy. The racism that is still part of Texas makes me sad (it is everywhere else too – unfortunately). The political changes that have turned it from a Blue state to a Red one have me perplexed. And the remarkable variety of places and things to do is mind-boggling in diversity and sheer number.
There was a time in my life when, like Mac Davis, I wanted nothing more than to leave Texas. The song, “Texas in My Rearview Mirror,” came out in 1980, the year I graduated from High School in Andrews, Texas. Like the song, however, I have learned to appreciate my Texas heritage and miss it deeply. This part of the song means a lot to me.
I guess happiness was Lubbock, Texas
In my rearview mirror
But now happiness is Lubbock, Texas
Growin' nearer and dearer
And the vision is gettin' clearer in my dreams
And I think I fin'lly know just what it means
And when I die, you can bury me in Lubbock, Texas'in my jeans
- Texas In My Rearview Mirror, Mac Davis
I have lived away from Texas since 1993 when I left to go to graduate school. I think of it often, visit when I can, and live with my longings to be there almost every day. The bulk of my family – birth and extended – live there and I wish I could see them more often. Leaving at that time in my life was the best for me and my future, but someday I hope to move back to my native state. I love Texas – despite its flaws. I wear my accent proudly. There are very few times that I can open my mouth and not get asked, “Where is that accent from?” So I get to claim my birth state almost every day living here in the Northeast.
So, yes happiness is Lubbock, Texas growing nearer and dearer. I love where I am from. And I am proud to be a Texan – through and through.