Watch for rattlesnakes. This was my last view of West Texas as I drove away.
I have officially left West Texas…twice. That is right. I have lived in and left the city of Amarillo twice in my adult life. The first time I lived in Amarillo I worked as a reporter/anchor at the local CBS affiliate NewsChannel 10 (www.newschannel10.com).
The second time around I worked as an Assistant Professor of Communication at West Texas A&M University www.wtamu.edu in nearby Canyon, TX. I never thought I would live in the Texas Panhandle once, much less twice. Yet, both times (3 years each) I have grown a lot as a person and have been changed for the better. Amarillo is located in the northwest corner of the state, somewhere between Dallas and the North Pole (live a winter there and you’ll understand).
Amarillo is what I say should be the cultural capital of Texas. I am not speaking of high culture (though Amarillo has more than its share of art, music and theater) I am talking about the image of Texas that tourists want to see.
Amarillo is what everyone envisions when they hear the name Texas. Folks this is where cowboys live and work on ranches, where the steak comes in 72 ounces and Cadillacs really are planted into the ground. Sunsets really do fill up the horizon. And they are beautiful. You really can almost hear the soundtrack to cowboy a film as you take in the surroundings.
It is true everything is bigger if not better in Texas. I remember when I worked here as a news reporter and a talk show host needed an entire episode to discuss the big hair women have here. This where I learned the term “jacked up to Jesus” when referring to woman’s hairdo. The hair and cowboy hats are not the only things when come in giant sizes. The people of Amarillo have the biggest and kindest hearts of anyone I have ever met. The TSA agents are actually kind at the airport. These are simply the nicest people in what I argue is the nicest state in the US.
To be honest with you I didn’t want to write this post. It will not be my most eloquent writing. I am just simply too close to Amarillo to write about it objectively. I mean that as a compliment to the folks in the Texas Panhandle. I have decided for now to live elsewhere; but I will always carry a special place in my heart for the sight of tumbleweeds blowing across the road, the sound of a West Texas howdy with that heavy twang and I will always savor the taste of steak cooked just right.
I hope that you sing along with cowpokes and eat at the Big Texan. Visit the Cadillac Ranch. Hike the incredibly beautiful Palo Duro Canyon. I most of all encourage you to meet the natives. Their hair and their hats are big, but their hearts are even bigger.