From A to Zowie
Two pebbles, a handful of sand, and a piece of limestone
By Richard Zowie
My two youngest sons and I visited Texas in July 2011, our first visit home in over seven, very long years. It was an extremely emotional experience, to put it lightly. Never in my life was I so happy to experience 90-degree weather. While home, we stayed in Beeville with my parents but also spent time in Corpus Christi, Victoria and in Austin. In Austin, we spent the day with Chelsea Taylor, my high school classmate whom I’ve known since fifth grade. I also got to see my nephews, nieces and my sisters Sabrina and Misti, all whom I missed very much.
It was a week that went by far too quickly.
The last night before we flew back to Flint, Michigan, Chelsea asked me, “How has your vacation been, Richard?”
“Let me put it this way,” I said. “If I could, I’d tear up the return-flight tickets.”
Being back in Texas made me realize something I’ve known deep down for years: I’m a Texan. Michigan is a beautiful state, but it’s not home and never will be home. Someday soon, when the time is right, I want to return back to Texas and spend the rest of my life in the Lone Star State.
I wasn’t born in Texas, but I moved to Texas when I was eight, grew up in Texas and think of myself as an adopted Texan.
Why my fondness for Texas? It’s not just because it’s home, but…Texas is a state of mind that I’ve never experienced any other place I’ve been. I love the white-on-black farm to market road signs, I love the scenery, which ranges from the Gulf Coast to the Valley to the Hill Country and to the endless oil derricks you see out in West Texas. I also love the culture, how the independent spirit blends with the Hispanic culture. I’m not Catholic, but I smile when I see old Catholic churches; they make me think of early Texas settlements centuries ago. I love the smell of Tex-Mex food and the accordion-fueled guitar beat of Tejano music.
And, of course, I love the songs of the cicadas.
I know I’m home when I enter a store and for sale on the news stands are the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle, and in the magazine rack is Texas Monthly and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. And when you enter that store, half the conversations are in Spanish, spoken by family and friends who have spent generations in that town.
All this means I’m especially partial to South Texas.
I am a very sentimental person by nature, and during that visit I decided to collect a few items.
From the back of my parents’ property northeast of Beeville, I found a smooth black pebble.
During our trip to Corpus, we visited the U.S.S. Lexington. While there, I scooped up a handful of sand from the beach of Corpus Christi Bay.
While with my sisters, nephews and nieces for a trip to Victoria to a duck pond, I found another smooth black pebble.
Then, outside Chelsea’s home in Lakeway, I found a piece of limestone.
Someday, perhaps as soon as this summer, I plan to move back to Texas. For now, I live in Vassar, Michigan, a small community about 25 miles southeast of Saginaw. On my nightstand are two plastic containers; one contains the pebbles and limestone and the other contains the sand.
When I return, the sand will be returned to the beach at Corpus Christi Bay.
The small black pebble will be returned back to the duck pond in Victoria.
The larger black pebble will be returned to my parents’ property.
And the limestone will be returned to its home in Lakeway.
When I do those things, I will know one thing.
I am back home for good. And forever.
Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and is a 1991 graduate of A.C. Jones High School. He currently lives with his sons in Vassar, Michigan. Post your comments here or e-mail Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog is at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com.