An Outlaw's Texas Sojourn
When I met my husband 36 years ago, I didn’t realize that he was really a Texan at heart. The bandana and overalls that he wore at the time or his love of smoked meat of any kind should have given me a clue.
Over the years he has honed his Texas persona through the purchase of actual cowboy boots and by consistently wearing all black in honor of Johnny Cash (who isn’t even a Texan).
A few months ago, as empty nesters, he told me he wanted us to escape the harsh Rochester winters. Not to a beach but — you guessed it — Texas.
To which I replied: “Yee…Ha?!”
We started our Texas Sojourn a few weeks ago.
The husband added to his Lone Star wardrobe by purchasing a real cowboy hat at the rodeo. Yes, we went to the rodeo. We were in Fort Worth on bull-riding night, watching two full hours of cowboys trying to beat the 8-second clock. It was perfect for my short attention span, but it’s not a sport for the faint of heart.
We took a side trip to Waco to worship the king and queen of Texas shabby chic, Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple that has single-handedly popularized shiplap and wrought iron on their HGTV show, “Fixer-Upper.”
While they've retired from the show, their popularity has not waned, judging from the fans standing in line to buy their decor and for cookies made by Joanna (not actually made by her, of course, but by the legions of employees managing the hordes with a smile and a “Y’all”).
The husband waited in the car (wearing his hat).
We moved on to Austin, Texas where I wandered the streets delighting in the confluence of music, art and food. One of my favorite stops was the Roadhouse Relics Gallery where Todd Sanders crafts his fine art sculptures through the medium of neon. He had a dream over 20 years ago that he could live as an artist and now he says his art hangs in galleries next to his idol, Andy Warhol.
What I didn’t realize as we made our way through Texas, meeting dreamers all along the way, is that so many roads would lead back home. In my wanderings through Austin I met former Rochesterians who had moved to Texas for the weather and had stayed for the great culture.
Kirk Haines’ Austin store, Service Menswear, began in Rochester as a vintage clothing and design store. Hipsters from all around the country now buy cool clothes from him.
We ate at Loro, the hottest Asian-fusion barbecue in Austin. As we bought our smoked meat, I started chatting with our server, Tate, who, naturally, had worked and lived in Rochester for six years.
I suddenly realized that I felt connected to Texas precisely because it feels like home. Consider how Rochester has grown through the vision of the same kind of dreamers: transformed by public murals in the Wall\Therapy public mural project; fashion offered from designers and local boutiques that are curated every year at Fashion Week of Rochester; the music that fills the streets during the Rochester International Jazz Festival; and even the great cuisine we love from our favorite Rochester chefs.
We are coming home this weekend in time to experience plenty of winter, but our Texas adventure and “pretending” to live here has made me homesick for the best that our city has to offer, right around my own corner.
And another fringe benefit: Now the husband has a cowboy hat big enough to keep his head warm during a polar vortex.
As seen in the USA Today Network, Garnett Newspapers and the Democrat & Chronicle.