When life deals an unexpected hand, there is little to do but play the cards the best you can. The hand I was dealt a few weeks ago included a “move to Texas” card I never saw coming. So life changed from reporting on school board meetings and photographing local events to taking care of my father and figuring out small-town Texas.
Make no mistake, life in Texas is different than the day-to-days in Wisconsin. A morning run in Wisconsin might include passing other joggers, seeing someone mowing the lawn or scraping frost off their car. In Texas, it includes the doleful looks of goats many people keep in the lawns, watching a flock of chickens scatter as you speed by, and lazy stares of bearded old men as they fire up the barbecue pit for the day’s lunch rush. Side note: if you ever find yourself in Texas, try the barbecue. It will change your life.
Another notable difference is priorities set by the two states. Texas spends more than $6 billion a year of highway and road surface projects, a number the state wants to increase to $10.8 billion during the next several years. By comparison, Wisconsin’s entire transportation budget it $6.8 billion every two years.
The majority of majority of the Texas transportation budget seems be poured into the major cities. In Austin and Dallas, the highways are layered four or five levels high in some areas. Meanwhile, the roads in the small downs are dotted with potholes and lined with spiderwebs of cracks because the municipalities don’t make enough revenue to maintain their streets.
One a more personal note, the biggest adjustment has been transitioning from working full time in a career that provided much satisfaction and pride, to being unemployed and spending most of my time at my father’s home. The feeling of purpose is not one that can be replaced. Once it’s gone it leaves a person scrambling to fill the gap. While I do have purpose here, maintaining my father’s health, it’s a difficult task to convince my brain that just being here IS a full-time job. It’s a daily struggle to remind myself that just because my current occupation doesn’t include scheduling three meetings a day, running all over town, and writing half a newspaper every week, doesn’t mean that I don’t have purpose here.
On the bright side, the sun is out, it’s nearly 60 degrees here today and the neighbor’s rooster is letting the entire neighborhood know it’s time to be up and it. Time to get my Dad out of the house and go see how Texas parks compare to Wisconsin’s.