The HeART of Texas
A lot of words come to mind when I think of Texas. Most of them are fairly accurate like cowboys, two step, republicans and guns, but I learned just how many less obvious associations I was missing in my preconceived notion of the place.
Driving through the massive state I expected to see gun slinging, boot kicking cowboys driving big trucks grunting “howdy” with a tip of their hat… and I did. What I did not expect between the long stretches of vast but beautiful nothingness where I almost ran out of gas and worried about never being seen again by another soul while withering to a pile of bones in the dry desert, was for NPR to be the only radio to work the entire four hundred some odd miles and small, adorable, liberal, artsy towns.
Alpine, Marfa, and Valentine, Texas create a little chain of creative culture through the southwest corner of the state, dead smack in the middle of nothing. Heading west the towns get smaller and art gets stranger and the people stay sweet as pie.
Valentine, with a population of around 200 people, is the smallest town, but it boasts the most dramatic art installation. Just outside of the community made up mostly of run-down older homes and small trailers that run along two short roads is a large building made to resemble a Prada store. It has clean lines, fresh paint, and filled with the famous brands expensive shoes and purses. The juxtaposition to the humble surrounding communities far from cosmopolitan life sheds awareness on the unimportance of such grand materialism yet highlights our consumer obsessive society.
I passed through Texas feeling surprisingly enlightened and cultured and obviously full from must have tex-mex before hitting the road again. Texas isn’t as tough as they seem, after all the saying “don’t mess with Texas” was nothing more than a campaign against littering in the 80’s. It’s a big gentle giant of a great American state.
Later Texas, oh hey New Mexico.