I’m so happy to be back in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things I miss about Texas.
The people. I definitely miss some of the good friends we made there. And I miss the friends our kids made. Even though we lived in this Oregon town before and still have many friends here, five years is a lot of lost time to navigate, and we’re still “finding” our way back into old friendships. It’s been even harder on the kids, especially since they’re at an age where even a summer can seem like an eternity, never mind five years. (friends aside, though, I really do prefer our neighborhood here in Oregon.)
Accelerated learning at the schools. I don’t miss the schools themselves, or the district at large. I always felt like the educational environment there was just too intense, and I know for sure it sucked the love of learning clean out of my kids. And yet…I desperately miss my kids’ opportunities to learn at an accelerated rate through honors classes. Our district in Oregon doesn’t have a similar program, or at least nothing nearly as robust. In fact, they throw ALL kids together in the 9th and 10th grades at my girls’ high school, with the expressed hope that the more advanced students will become leaders and mentors to struggling students in their classrooms. Peers in my 10th grader’s Chemistry class have started calling her “The Computer” because of how well she understands the material, and they often go to her for help. And while she thinks that’s kind of funny, and I can see how the district’s plan is working in that case, all I know is that my 10th grader is BORED in most of her classes. She is not being challenged, and she’s having a hard time finding peers with her same passion for academics.
Marching Band and Football. Trust me, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD MISS TEXAS FOOTBALL! All the “machismo” could get annoying. But I do indeed find myself missing Texas football…or the idea that if you’re going to do something, you do it all the way. Football in our Oregon district is…kind of sad. It always seems like no one is even watching the game – people mill around the stadium grounds, even ’round and ’round the track surrounding the field, there’s a ton of noise in the stands (and it’s often not even related to the team or plays). It feels so disrespectful to the players on the field. And then there’s marching band. After four years of Texas marching band with our oldest, and one year under my 10th grader’s belt, marching band at our high school in Oregon is…kind of painful. That’s the only thing I can think to say. The group here is smaller, less organized, less polished, less driven. It’s definitely more of a social club and much less about achievement or performance. But having an identified peer group can be everything to a high school kid, and band kids – no matter where you’re from – tend to be among the best kids at a school.
BBQ. I’m not too sad about no more Tex-Mex, mostly because our town in Oregon has a surprisingly large Latino immigrant base, and it’s not hard to find delicious, authentic food. BUT…I doubt we’ll be able to find better bbq here. We had our favorite bbq joint in Texas, and my mouth waters to even think of it!
I could probably write a list five times this long of the things I do not miss about Texas, but I wanted to acknowledge the best of our experiences there, too. Some days I wish I could find a happy medium between the extreme of “Don’t Mess with Texas” and the lax Oregon vibe of “Let’s hug it out.”