I've lived all of my life in Texas, minus a short stint in Utah working for the Sundance Film Festival, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's true that state pride runs deep around here, no matter what part of the state you inhabit. Growing up, my parents did an incredible job of showing my brothers and me the U.S.; we traveled all over to the Pacific, Atlantic, and lots in between. It always felt good to come back to Texas though, and that hasn't changed. Whether I'm in my hometown of 11k or my current city of 2.5 million, I love calling this great state home.
I grew up in the small town of Sweetwater, Texas. Maybe you've heard of it, since Sweetwater's home to the World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-up. But probably you haven't. I lived there from birth to college, and I wouldn't trade growing up in West Texas for anything. Zach grew up about 15 miles North of our house, in a farm community called Highland. His graduating class of high school had 12 students. And I thought mine was small at 130! Both of our families have a vast history in Nolan County that we're proud of, and our small towns have a big heart. I miss making "the drag" every Saturday night with my girlfriends and ordering a drink at Sonic where they always know you by name. Sweetwater is a special place, and I'm thankful our families still live there so we get to visit as often as possible.
City life is a tad bit different. Granted we live in the suburbs, but we did live close to downtown Houston for several years. I love the city in a different way; I can't see the Big Dipper at night, or run in and out of the post office in two minutes, or get that super greasy food that's the best ever. But there are six Starbucks' within a two mile radius of our house, and that pretty much trumps everything.
I thought it'd be fun to compare small town to big city living, so here are the biggest differences Zach and I have noticed since our transition.
1. In the city, "close" to ones' house has a very different meaning. I consider anything within thirty minutes of our home relatively close, whereas in Sweetwater that would be absurd. You'd have to drive around the whole town four times and then go to your destination for it to take that long. And traffic? Real 5 o'clock traffic? No such thing in a small town. In Houston, it becomes your life. You plan your entire day around avoiding it at all costs.
2. People in the city don't gossip. Okay this isn't entirely true, but for the most part people in a big city don't spread rumors or gossip because everyone doesn't know everyone. In a small town, news travels like wildfire. People who live in the city run in so many different circles that you'd sound ridiculous talking about Peggy Sue's sister's son that went cow tipping last weekend. People in the city tend to mind their own business. Which brings me to my next point...
3. You can forget having Wilson/Tim neighborly relations. In the city, suburbs even, friendly neighbors are hard to come by. It's not that these people aren't nice per se, they just keep to themselves and don't want to be bothered. There are exceptions of course, but it's nothing like in a small town where you've known your neighbors all your life. That whole borrowing a cup of sugar thing actually happens in a small town. Which brings me to yet another point...
4. In the city, access to a store of any kind is never an issue. Growing up in Sweetwater, we had one grocery store in the middle of town. They finally put in a Walmart in January of my senior year of high school, and let me tell you guys, it was a big deal. The nearest mall was 45 minutes away, as was the closest Starbucks and Chick Fil A. When I say 45 minutes, I mean 45 miles. (I have to clarify for my Houston friends because in these parts, 45 minutes can mean 5 miles). Now we have countless grocery stores within a few miles of our house, and Chick Fil A is right around the corner. This is both wonderful and very bad.
5. Pro sports pride vs. high school football pride. In Houston, everyone worships the Texans. And the Astros. And the Rockets. Parents of those who play high school sports are usually the only ones you'll see sporting a "Spring Lions" t-shirt. In a small town, high school sports are everything. It doesn't matter if you have a child on the team or not, you know the football team's record and probably own at least three playoff t-shirts. You also think nothing of it when the whole town shuts down and stand outside waving cowbells to "send the team off". I have not encountered such a thing in Houston.
Life in the big city is wonderful, and so is life in a small town. It's all what you make of it, really. As long as you're surrounded by those you love, home is a relative term. I still refer to Sweetwater as "home", and probably always will. Wherever I'm with Zach and Bear is where I belong. Just so long as it's in Texas. ;)