Thursday, September 2, 2010

vida en el sur

(life in the south)

Welp, saludos! We're in southern Texas for a season, and woooooo boy about that. It's a total change of absolutely everything. By season, I mean, first, a metaphorical one. This is a stint at a lifestyle we never imagined for ourselves, one in which we're diving whole bodied into aspects of humanity that are much easier to ignore. We're the farthest we've ever been from family and close friends, a certain blustery loneliness that has us watching hesitantly for sproutings of new friendships. Shopping at totally different stores, learning new traffic patterns and subculture nuances, not quite fitting in, analyzing some of our nation's most complex dilemmas - you know how it goes.

Most importantly, our days of easy, carefree living - leaving doors unlocked and hearts wide open - are on pause. The reality is that outsiders are actually not very safe here, not because of the common townspeople, but because of gang and drug activity. This will change us, but to what degree? It's a season alright, but I don't yet know if it's summer, winter, spring, or fall. Sometimes you can't tell about these things until the season is over.

But we are sure digging being a family again! Here we are in an elevator on a recent visit to San Antonio.

part of the Alamo

Second, though we'll be here less than a year, it'll always be hot. To a northlander like me, having daytime temperatures only vary by 20 or 30 degrees over months and months counts as a single season.

Third, I have looked forward to new foods, new inspiration for cooking - new seasoning, if you will. And we have hit upon some already! I must find a good recipe for poblanas with mole sauce. That "e" should have an accent over it, so it rhymes with holy. The sauce has actual chocolate in it, you guys. It reminds me of a hot beef chocolate gravy. Also, fried bananas. And fresh salsa all the live long day. Mmmm.
stirring a basting barbecue sauce
We are very far south. I pictured a lot of cowpokes - men, women, and children - bantering in a thick drawl while they rode their horses to and fro, but such is not the scene in our town. I haven't heard a single, "y'all" or "come back now, ya hear?" There are a few white folk around, and I've seen a handful of blacks; otherwise, the population is nearly all Hispanic, so we hear lots of Spanish and English blended. Like at restaurants, they ask, "Quieres un high chair?" We are the blazingly obvious minority, especially Zoralee, with her white blonde hair. All of this is fine by me; it's just not what I pictured for living in Texas. I thought for sure I could find Z some killer cowgirl boots at the thrift store, but not so much.

One of Jason's co-workers, a woman of Hispanic descent, told him to not be surprised if strangers want to approach Zoralee and touch her eyes and hair. I am very thankful for the forewarning, because she gets comments and stares everywhere we go, and has been touched and kissed a few times. Reason is, fair hair and blue eyes are to be envied, and if a person thinks something is beautiful, they must touch it so as to not be cursed or overcome by that envy.

Hm. I am just connecting two very different dots right now, even as I typed that last paragraph. It's a big rabbit trail about this book I'm reading called Playful Parenting, by Lawrence Cowen, so I better save it for another post. But this paragraph will remind me to tell you. It's about avoidance and curses. Later.

Back to the regularly scheduled post about Texas:

So, like I said about the weather, it's utterly hot all the time, with a downpour of afternoon rain (yay!) once every two or three weeks. When I first got here, I listened to the weather man stretch for something to say about the fact that it would be, simply, another hot day. He rambled on and on about how that week's average lows (80 degrees) were slightly lower (or higher - it was practically irrelevant) than the same week's average lows from 1956, or something. Riveting stuff. We wear more layers here than you would think, because indoor and outdoor temperatures are so different.

And finally, though there is a lot of sunshine, there is a lot of darkness too - by choice. Everybody has heavily tinted car windows, and people rarely open their house shades or sit around on their porches or verandas. They just stay inside where it's air conditioned and cavey. Such aesthetics create a certain unwelcoming, hard to penetrate environment, if you ask me. Forget making eye contact with other drivers at a four-way stop. But there is a swimming pool where we live, and some friendly folks who keep up the grounds. Zoralee is learning to exchange, "Hola," and "Como estas?" and "Bien" and "Adios" with them. That always gets her an extra grin and hair tousle.

Next post: bugs


Rachel Clear said...

She is saying Spanish words?

Chocking back tears of pride.

Great post, sis.

Rachel Clear said...

That chocking should be "choking", but you know what I meant.

Rachel Clear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Writers of Kosciusko County Jail said...

I am SO with you on how the closed shades etc. create an uninviting atmosphere. I constantly felt that way about Phoenix. No one was out on the streets and all the shades were drawn. It's uninviting and also a little creepy.

I hope you write more about the culture there! I'm super interested. Thanks for a great post!

(P.S. Blogger won't let me sign in with my other account, but you know this is moi, Tamie.)

Christi said...

I am eating up every word of this. I love your descriptions of culture, wherever you are at.

Rena said...

I LOVED this blog and the pictures. A little peek into your daily lives. But, who's the buff dude carrying Zoralee in the elevator??!!

2 Moms of a Feather...Stick Together said...

Hey Lori...
We lived in Houston for 5 years...
though its not really the South...meaning that alot of people from around the world live there, not just of Mexican decent.
But the big city does change your thinking...I always lock my house & car, its makes you more aware of the people around you...I guess less trusting. We even saw some people get rob at gun point.
Praying that the Lord keeps you safe.
Nancy S.
I had lots of "Houston" Bible verses.