My British boyfriend and I went to Texas a few weeks ago, which was not his first time in Texas. But I think it was more of a Texas induction: last time we went, it was New Year’s, and there were more New Year activities, and this time we were either doing family things or driving for about ten days. (It was more fun than that sounds.)
I’ve been homesick lately, and not sure what to do with that fact. I think one thing to do with it is to try to spend more time around my family and friends. When I am back in Texas, I feel constrained and uncomfortable and comfortable and all of that mixture of emotions gives me an unsettled feeling, but it also lets me see myself as a whole continuum. In London I feel like my self that I created as an adult; in Texas I feel like all of my selves. In both places I feel like I’ve been moored somewhere inexplicable.
So it wasn’t a restful vacation, really, but it was joyful. It was pleasant in small ways – I could say “tomato” how I want. It was pleasant in moderately important ways – it was warm and sunny. It was joyful in big ways – I got to see my grandmother’s new retirement home, and spend time with her before she fell. I saw cousins and aunts/uncles who saw me grow up, and introduced them to someone I will marry in a month. I felt grown-up and young, and most of all – blessed. (And by the end, I also felt very fat.)
That’s the context. Here are some pictures, and short stories.
I didn’t take many pictures in Houston, unfortunately, but after we visited my brother in Houston we stopped in Brownwood, as a midpoint between Houston and Lubbock. Brownwood is a town that is, I think, worse than other towns of its size. But it has a far more active Chamber of Commerce than they do, so the other towns sounded unappealing, and Brownwood sounded really exciting. David and I would drive through very cute towns with nice old-fashioned town squares and good local businesses, and we would say, “Brownwood will be at least this good.”
It really wasn’t. First, no tourist attractions are open on Mondays. Second, it was actually really dead when we got in on Sunday evening. We didn’t see much in the way of local businesses. But we did get to see the old train depot, where we bought a coffee mug and a book.
We also tried to go to the Douglas Macarthur Academy of Freedom at Howard Payne University (a Baptist university based there). In the guide books, it seems to be a sort of museum. As far as I can tell, it is not. The guide books also claim that there are tours there every day at 1. I called to confirm this, and see if we could pop by earlier so we could get on the road. The woman on the other end of the phone said the tours weren’t happening now. I asked if we could swing by. She said, “It’s sort of difficult because the exhibits are in the classrooms and it’s exam time.” I asked if there were exams going on. She was non-committal. I said we might drop by. “It’s sort of difficult because of the exams.” But she wouldn’t say we couldn’t go, so we went by anyway.
You drive up, and there is a statue there,
but then there is an imposing sign.
There are signs around that point to a back exit. We went in. It seemed to be deserted. We were looking at some pictures and some electioneering materials from past elections. Then, a woman in a dark office who looked very much like an old Soviet museum doorkeeper told us that it was essentially closed. She was definitely the woman I spoke to earlier. She basically told us to leave, but in continued passive-aggressive ways, with some explanations about the mold in the exhibits in the front of the building. I snapped a picture of the wall of Christian Civilization when she wasn’t looking.
It was a bit underwhelming.
When I got back to the car, a bird had pooed all over the window.
The Academy of Freedom was a really un-free place.