Saturday, September 03, 2005

A word about Texas

I hadn’t been there in 15 years or so, but my memories of the highway and the scenery did the state justice. Once you cross the border you’re greeted by a sign, reminding you to “Drive Friendly”. This reminder is repeated every few miles, all the way through the state. One may laugh with a certain cynicism, but I’m here to tell you that once you leave the state again, you really appreciate the “Drive Friendly” concept. In Texas, you really do just set the cruise control and hang out in the #2 lane, until you need to pass someone. When you do, you get right back into the #2 lane, and relax. If someone needs to pass you, they will. There’s no speeding and weaving and tailgating and “I can’t get over, dammit!”. It’s very relaxing.

On the other hand, Texas has perhaps the most confusing freeway onramps ever conceived, and the signs at the interchanges are so crazy and hard to decipher that we always made sure to hit junctions with both of us wide awake- took two to navigate, every time.

Another thing about Texas, and Crawford in particular that you might not understand from watching the news: Texans are, by and large, lovely and welcoming. Yes, it’s “Bush Country”, and yes, there were those who wanted Camp Casey and its denizens gone. Some who wouldn’t meet your eye, some who made rude or racist comments if met on the street, and my favorites: the older couple who showed up at the counter demonstration with a sign that read, “Repent Treasonous Bastard Scum”. The sheriffs made them cross out “bastard”, as profanity is grounds for arrest in those parts.

But there were also families who rode their bikes out to look at the Arlington South memorial and chat with folks, there were busloads of people from Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, who came to be a part of it all. There were Gold Star parents from the Bush camp who came over to share coffee and stories with veterans and parents at the camp. And I understand that when the memorial was taken down yesterday- with solemn ceremony- everyone from the Bush camp crossed the road to take part.

Camp Casey was a place of healing and dialogue, and the wonderful Texans that I met knew and appreciated that, whichever side they were on.


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