How New York brought out the Texan in me

Images courtesy of Presha Kandel ’27.

I’m currently listening to country music. Growing up in a Texas town probably should have made me a long-time country music fan, but the surprising thing is, I began listening the first week of college. I have always been a mainstream pop fan––I would detest when country music was played in grocery stores, on the radio or at the doctor’s office. Any music was better than country music. 

But after the first day of classes, I found myself looking for songs that described the knot of emotions I was feeling. I felt like talking to someone but I was not yet close to anyone. My hometown friends were not answering my texts fast enough. I was left to feel my emotions alone, so I decided to play Alex Roe’s “Finally Home” from the movie Forever My Girl. The upbeat guitar, banjo and drums fool you into thinking it is the perfect song to dance to with a cowgirl hat and boots. You almost miss the lyrics “But now I’m turning back the tide/ I didn’t realize how far I’d gone.” Because I in fact did not the immense greenery on Vassar’s campus deceives me into thinking I am still in my small Texas town. I think about going home at times and realize that home is 1,700 miles away. 

I felt like an outlier in Texas. The number of Trump 2024 flags on the back of trucks is immeasurable. Christian and conservative values run deep. Seeing Confederate flags is not uncommon. Guns are openly carried, glued to hips. I loathed cowboy hats and boots, despite owning them. In my 12 years of Texas schooling, I never wore boots to school, although they are a big part of Texan identity. Trucks too. 

And if you told me that I would be listening to country music in college, I would have laughed in your face. I have always had an itch to leave Texas. I wasn’t sure why—I was happy with my family, friends and my home. I was more liberal than most, but I would not uproot my life for that reason. Maybe it was the suburban town where I grew up. The reasoning behind the itch is indescribable. I knew I wanted something more and something different. 

But now, in a colder, northeastern campus, I long for how Texans quickly say “God bless you” right after you sneeze. I long for how Texans smile and wave at everyone they pass by, even strangers. I surprisingly miss the cowboy hat, belt and boots combo that Texas loves so much, the football craze and the Texas pledge. 

So I sit here, semi-enjoying my warm dorm; I cannot help itI am from Texas. I bundle up when the weather dips below 70 degrees and I listen to country music on blast. I annoy my next-door neighbors by talking about Texan culture and life, realizing that I am speaking out of a place of love. Somehow, New York brought out the Texan in me. 

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