I wasn’t born in Texas. In fact, I was more or less coerced into moving here by my wife, who offered me the choice of moving to Texas and getting married—or not.
I know that will make everything I say suspect to some of you, but it’s important to a topic I think about all the time: The role of place in our life.
The hill and lake country of northern Michigan was about as different from the high, lonesome plains of Texas (yes, I do live in Dallas, but grant me a little poetic license) as you can imagine. The country of my youth was forest, vistas were closed, and during the short growing season plants grew everywhere, almost so fast you could see them grow. Even in the winter the trees and hills cut your view short.
When I first came here, I was unnerved. I felt exposed under the wide sky like a rabbit with no place to hide from the hawk. When I walked in a Texas forest, the proportions felt wrong. The trees were only one third or one fourth the size of the soaring forests in the north. I felt like a giant striding among a Lilliputian forest.
Now that I’ve been here twenty-five years I don’t get those feelings anymore. I’m comfortable with the landscape. But I remember how important a sense of place, of being home, can be, and how easily it can be lost.