What do you get when you put Pat Green and a bunch of rowdy Texans who now reside in New York together for Texas Independence Day? A hell of a good time.
I love being from Texas. As much as I love living in New York City and believe that some aspects of me now fit here more than they would fit in the south, I do believe that there are aspects of where you come from- your ‘roots’- that never leave you, and that is a really wonderful thing.
We started the night by going to a BBQ joint here in the city that I had heard a lot about, but never been to: Hill Country Barbeque. I walked in and the smell took me instantly to the local barbeque joint about 2 miles from the dirt road where I grew up, The Swinging Door. It’s unreal how a smell of something so familiar can take you back 20 years in time. A feeling of inexplicable joy came over me right away- that feeling of lightness recognized by my soul even faster than it was recognized by my brain, knowing that there was a sense of home here.
A mural of longhorns grazing sleepily in pastures filled with bluebonnets, the Texas state flower that lines our miles and miles of highways come March, was painted on the wall. The Texas Lone Star greeted me from every direction and a blue sign hung that read, “Luckenbach, Texas.” It just felt so amazing to read those words, and I’m not even from Luckenbach.
The dessert coolers were filled with home-ade banana pudding, sweet potato bread pudding and pecan pie, all served with you know it: Blue Bell Homeade Ice Cream, brought all the way up to the Big Apple! Men sat around in cowboy hats and boots, the Texas flag flew proudly over the walls upstairs and down, and Lone Star Beer sat on every table, enjoyed icy and cold by each patron there. The only thing that was missing was our beloved Shiner Bock, illegal to be sold in New York because they don’t have a liquor license here. When I took this up with the owner, he said that it’s in such demand that sometimes they take their chances and sneak 500 cases in from New Jersey, who somehow is licensed to sell Shiner? I’m not quite sure how that happened. Here, it sells for about $8/beer instead of the usual $3-4, but if a Texan can get his or her hand on one, it is a small price to pay.
And the most amazing thing was that the food actually rivaled Texas Barbeque. It was as good as any barbeque I’ve ever had. I was tempted to talk to the Manager about getting a part-time job there just because the atmosphere made me so happy, but I gave it some thought and decided that, unfortunately, that wouldn’t really align with my long-term-goals, so I’d just have to frequent it as a customer instead.
We left Hill Country and headed to Terminal 5, a venue with 3 decks of balconies that hosts all kinds of music, from Ben Harper to My Morning Jacket. I’ve been here for a concert before, and last night the crowd was completely, 100% different. I loved it. We walked in, the sounds of guitar and the fiddle echoing loudly in the space, cowboy and girl boots everywhere and a plaid shirt on 50% of the people who were there. Half of the crowd was so excited to have Pat Green there and be surrounded by fellow Texans that they must’ve had too many pre-concert shots to know what was going on. We were packed in like sardines and beer was being spilled left and right, but no one seemed to care. The singing and dancing filled the space, and it was so nice to be in a place where everyone seemed to smile and say, “excuse me.” I miss that about home. It’s not that New Yorkers are rude, it’s that we’re in a hurry. I’ve become one of them- and while I see so many good things from it: becoming more assertive, growing a thicker shell, not caring so much what people think of me and telling people what I think instead of what I feel they would like to hear or what I feel I ‘should’ say…. I never want to lose my Texas spirit, and I don’t think I will. It is integral to who I am as a person.
I don’t know how long I’ll live in New York- this weekend, I celebrated my 2 year anniversary here. And, I don’t know when I will return to live in Texas again. Life is unpredictable and these things can’t always be planned. One thing I do know: there isn’t a place with more pride, friendlier people, and a more cohesive culture than Texas, and sometimes those things can’t really be seen until a step back is taken. I am so thankful to be from the Lone Star State- if you haven’t been there yet, I’d plan a trip as soon as you can… to Austin. But heed these words before you go…