The Ballad (Dirge?) of a Southern Man in Hawaii

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“But I guess it’s something you don’t understand.” — The Texas sunset (undoctored image)

It’s worth prefacing this by saying that I love life.  I’m thrilled to be in Hawaii.  I’ve been here for two weeks and my world is already changing and my horizons are expanding.  Some of my preconceived notions are being challenged, and others are being reinforced.  This may well be, as made famous by Dilbert, my paradigm shifting without a clutch.  Maybe it’s just not engaged fully and there’s a bit of gear grind.  It’s about time for my turn- god knows I’ve put my Jeep through it enough.

I miss Texas.

Change is good, Hawaii is beautiful, I’m meeting all sorts of wonderful people, and I wouldn’t even consider taking back this decision- but, dear god do I miss Texas.

I’m not just the only Texan here, I’m the only southerner here.  That seems like a silly thing to cause any sort of trepidation, but you begin to realize that there are distinct regional differences rather quickly.

The 10ish people who have been here or that are here are a surprisingly homogenous crowd, even though none of them are traveling together or even knew each other before this farm.  I’m about to break people down to in general categories.  It does them a disservice a individuals- I understand this- but is useful for painting a very broad picture.

  • There are a couple bay area (San Francisco and Oakland) people here- one bi gal who is a massage therapist/dula, and only eats “whole” foods whenever possible, and one guy who is gay and very quiet (he’s gone now to another island) and vegetarian
  • Two Canadian gals from Ontario, and two from Montreal.  Two are gone.  Of those that remain, one only eats whole, vegan foods and is incredibly fit, and the other is a massage therapist/naturopath who remains mostly vegetarian.
  • A girl from Chapel Hill who is a massage therapist.
  • A gay guy from NYC who likes to spend his summers as a drag queen.
  • A couple people who were leaving just as I was coming in were from Portland.

I’m an outlier.  Even as a somewhat progressive atheist who has actively campaigned for gay rights, I’m an outlier.  I’m not just an outlier, but much of what I value is seen as negative, destructive, or something that needs “fixing.”

Working construction in Texas means busting ass with a number of good ‘ol boys, sharing a sort of fraternal camaraderie, and shooting the shit about life.  Something as simple as walking around in Texas means occasionally holding the door open for a lady, and nodding your head and responding with a “ma’am” when she flashes you a big smile, full of genuine gratitude, and thanks you for it, even though she expected it the whole time.

That sort of thing doesn’t really happen here.  I feel very neutered in my ability to express myself, in both my actions and my words.

Being a Texan means being a part of that, and so much more.  It’s a large part of my identity, and I’m proud of that.  It’s rough not being able to share it.

On a related note, a link to a beautiful song- by a Texas band- that resonates pretty deeply with me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj7Zft8aiRc

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