I was born and raised in a small Texas town on the Gulf Coast. Groves, TX. A town full of oil refineries, supermarkets, churches and one-level brick houses where snow cones are a summer staple, Texas flags are flown proudly and high school football is king. And growing up, all I wanted to do was get out.
When you’re a teenager in Groves, TX, your days are usually spent listening to indie rock bands, wearing trendy thrift-store clothes, sipping lattes, reading books on philosophy and politics and basically doing anything un-Groves, TX.
The kids in Groves, TX, are not the kids you see on those feel-good Southern movies about football and first loves. No, the kids in Groves, TX, spend their whole lives wishing they were anywhere but there and counting the days until they can leave.
So, when my plans to move to Los Angeles went through, you can imagine my happiness. The day I signed the lease on my very own LA studio, I vowed to become an LA woman and leave Groves, TX, far, far behind.
And I did a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. I lost most of my southern accent within a couple of months and picked up a nice west coast one that I thought made me sound more intellectual. I listened to all the hippest music, went to all the hippest shows and wore all the hippest clothes. I even began to eat like a west coaster. Gone were the sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese. In their place were hummus and pita bread, raw vegetables and organic milk.
I had arrived! Or so I thought. Until I met someone who changed everything.
Born in Idaho and raised in Eastern Washington State, the person I met had the complete opposite mindset from mine, and at first, it drove me nuts. Raised on a farm in the middle of nothing but rolling wheat fields, this guy absolutely loved where he came from. Then again, maybe love isn’t the right word. He was obsessed with where he came from. He could spend hours upon hours talking about the city he grew up in and the people that live there and the memories he had made growing up. He talked about small town family values and dirt roads and the struggles of modern-day farmers, and I listened with amazed ears. I had never met someone so proud of where they came from, and it got me wondering if I had possibly been too quick to shake the Texas soil off my shoes.
This crazy farm kid somehow managed to blend his country ways with the city’s ways and create a life that was irresistibly fun, and before I knew it, old stories about creek swimming and dock fishing and snow cone eating were bubbling up in my mind and making me really, really happy.
That’s when it hit me: If this guy could manage to be both LA-trendy and farm-fed-fun, then I could, too. And in that moment, I went from running from my roots to embracing them with all my might.
Since then, a lot has changed. These days, I can’t go 24 hours without some good old country music, and I’ve added foods like sweet potatoes and baked beans back into my diet. On any given day, you might hear me boasting about my line dancing skills, joking about my flannel-wearing uncles, raving about crawfish boils, or reminiscing about my visits home when I get to swim in lakes, drink sweet tea, ride four wheelers and wear cut-offs to dinner.
But the most significant change can be seen when people ask me where I’m from. I find that I no longer wish I could say LA. Instead, I smile my sweet southern smile and proudly say, “I’m from Texas. Never been? Well, ya’ll should go there one day. It’s a mighty fine place.”
I never thought a boy from the north living in the west could help a girl from the south find her way home, but I’ll always be so glad that he did.