That’s right you’re not from Texas,
but Texas wants you anyway.
—Lyle Lovett, Willis Alan Ramsey, Alison Rogers, co-songwriters
”What’s that?” Silence startled me from my daydreams.
“I don’t know,” Fred whispered.
We were south of Kyle on Interstate 35 when our pickup engine abruptly stopped. We coasted down the nearby exit ramp, passed under the traffic light that turned green in the nick of time and coasted up the gas station driveway where we finally stopped.
Welcome to San Marcos, Texas.
Fred and I planned our move from Kansas to be closer to two of our three children and their families. They had discovered Texas almost 10 years earlier. We had been visiting Central Texas towns, searching for that “hometown feeling,” and our older son from Buda contacted a real-estate agent to meet with us that afternoon.
Now we sat quietly in the truck, speculating about what had happened on the busy interstate. The friendly face of a constable appeared at the window next to Fred, who looked frustrated about our vehicle.
“You folks need help?” he asked, a welcoming smile spread across his weathered face.
Fred opened the door and stepped out. “Yes, we have some car problems. It stopped, dead on the highway. The exit was right beside us, the light was green and the gas station right here. We were lucky we got off the road before we lost our momentum.”
“Sounds to me like you were meant to be here,” the man said with a slight chuckle. “Pop the hood. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on.”
I stretched my legs and listened to the conversation under the hood. Before long, Fred handed me the pickup keys. “We’ll be right back,” he said and climbed into the patrol car with the word Constable painted proudly across the door. They returned with a new battery that didn’t solve our problem, so the officer summoned a tow truck and our pickup was taken to an auto repair shop. When the constable dropped us off at a car-leasing agency to arrange our transportation, he handed me his business card and reminded us to call him if we needed any more help.
“Thanks for all you’ve done,” Fred said as the officer climbed into his car.
The constable smiled. “Helping each other is what we’re about around here.” He tipped his big Texas hat. “Good luck finding a new home. I have a feeling we’re going to have some new Texans in town.”
And, that’s the way our move to Texas began. With each person we met, we became convinced that our vehicle forced us off the road because we were destined to become “the new Texans” right here in San Marcos, south of Austin.
We drove our rental car around the courthouse square, then branched out into residential areas. We got lost and found several times—a good way to become familiar with any new community. Quite soon, south of town, we saw the house I had dreamed about—a Texas stone ranch—with a “For Sale” sign in the yard.
We drove in circles through the winding streets of the neighborhood, and each time we thought we had found our way out, we were led past that Texas stone ranch house again. We couldn’t escape its charm.
I’m sure you know the end to our story. We rendezvoused with our real-estate agent and arranged to visit the house. It had all the features we wished for, including a fenced yard for our dog, Sweet Jenny. We were drawn to that house like we ended up at the gas station with the constable. This was to be our new home. We were going to be “the new Texans” in town.
Our agent gave us lists of workers and retailers. When our furniture arrived, she came with lunch and information about churches and her favorite places to eat. A new bank account included more than banking information when the young man shared local history and the best places to eat Mexican food. Our new insurance agent shared more warm hospitality: “I grew up here and left like young people sometimes do. But I came back, and I’m glad I did.”
Conversations with the women behind the counter where we got new Texas driver’s licenses and license plates resulted in information about buying plants, household items and hardware. What fun it is to be “the new Texans” in town!
I connected with Pedernales Electric Cooperative, trash pickup, water, cable and phone providers. Friendly people everywhere asked: “Have you been to …? Have you seen …? Have you eaten at …?” A young woman at our cell phone office said, “I came here for college, loved it and never left. Actually, I couldn’t leave the river.” We had just arrived, and already we understood her affection for the San Marcos River.
Sunday, we attended church and sat gingerly in the pew for fear it was someone else’s place. The couple in front of us turned around with a warm greeting and introduced us to others nearby. By the time we left for home, my new church friend had invited me to her home for a women’s gathering. It’s exciting being “the new Texan” in town.
“Everyone seems so happy,” I told my daughter, who lives north of Houston.
“That’s Texas, Mom. That’s just Texas,” she said.
I’ve survived many Midwest winters and never liked snow, so I always suspected Texans were happy because they aren’t cooped up in the house half the year. But we’ve discovered Texans are happy because Texas is a great place to live.
It’s great to be “the new Texans” in town. Howdy, y’all! (Did I say that right?) Thanks for making us feel at home.
After writing nonfiction professionally for many years, Terri Clamons now focuses on writing adult and children’s fiction.