This is our second “Where I’m From” special issue, in which the entire magazine, front to back, is given over to stories about growing up in Texas. Last time, most of the essays were by staff writers. This time we turned to some of our favorite authors, folks like John Phillip Santos, Elizabeth Crook, David Dorado Romo, and Shelby Hearon. We could publish an issue like this every month, so vast and varied is the state. Our cover subject, former first lady Laura Bush, has a new memoir (perhaps you’ve heard) in which she writes evocatively about her childhood in Midland, which is a world away from, say, Beaumont, the subject of a magnificent photo essay by Keith Carter. There’s no end to the stories of Texas.
None of them, however, are mine. I came here in 1999. That’s right, I wasn’t born in Texas. Nor can I lay claim to a boyhood spent wandering the limestone cliffs of the Hill Country or the fertile fields of the Rio Grande Valley. My granddad didn’t teach me how to shear sheep or noodle for catfish. I didn’t grow up rooting for the Cowboys or going to tamaladas or vacationing in Big Bend. I count no Texans at all among my ancestors, all of whom are Eastern European immigrants to the Midwest who struck out in the first half of the twentieth century for California, where I was born and raised.
This is the moment at the party