When I left North Carolina to go to acting school in Texas, one of my friends told me that I’d come back being able to say “all my exes live in Texas.” Now, I won’t be leaving any exes here, but while I have been in Texas – much to my surprise – I have fallen completely and totally in love.
I fell in love with big grassy fields full of horned cows, with wildflowers bursting down endless roads, with soft purple sunrises and burning orange sunsets. I fell in love with breakfast tacos, with cacti planted in flowerpots and with star-studded overpasses. I fell in love with green hills and flat deserts rising to a twinkling sky, and with sudden, inappropriate amounts of rain. I fell in love with a thousand dusty little towns with improbably-spelled names, and one whose name has now been in my mailing address for three and a half years.
I fell deeply in love with San Marcos, with mermaids painted on sidewalks and buildings, with gently waving wild rice in a dreamy blue-green river, with vultures circling the financial aid building and hovering ominously on exam days, with late-night trips to Whataburger and midday trips to Kobe, with Torchy’s and Jo-on-the-Go and the little HEB, with the uphill climb to the library or the rec or anywhere else, and with one old round red brick building in the middle of a turtle-filled moat.
I fell in love with doors that were too heavy and rooms that were too cold, floors that squeaked with every step and collected dustballs as if on purpose. I fell in love with billboards covered in notices and cabinets full of surprises. I fell in love with an armada of traditions that were always getting knocked around and hurricaned out and rescheduled, but which struggled on anyway. I fell in love with the buzz of the lobby first thing in the morning, or right after a show, or, god help us all, right before general auditions. I fell in love with performing in every room of the place and rehearsing in the lobby at 9pm because nowhere else was available. I fell in love with never being able to find an empty room because everyone was always making things happen all the time. I fell in love with hundreds of people relentlessly and audaciously doing what they wanted to do with their lives.
I fell in love with ten people who showed me their hearts every day for four years. I fell in love with people who challenged authority, who asked brilliant stupid questions, who gave abundantly when they had nothing left for themselves, who dared to be unreasonable, who asked for help, who crumbled into pieces and then got back in the arena again. I fell in love with people who were makers of art and music and change and peace and opportunity and plans and chaos and really good food and family. I fell in love with people who loved me too.
No, I may not be leaving any exes in Texas, but I have been very lucky in love.