Back from Christmas
Well, West Texas was, as usual, so dry I lost 3 pounds water weight just getting out of the car. It was also startlingly cold, getting below 20 the first night we were there, leaving a thin layer of frost on everything but no snow, of course. I haven't been to Monahans since we went to football games in high school (yes, following your team from town to town is considered perfectly normal behavior in West Texas), and it is roughly how I remembered it. Quiet, ugly, and smells like sulfur. Surprisingly, the tap water was fine to drink, unlike the tap water in Midland/Odessa, which tastes like the air smells. Every little town we drove through, my boyfriend, who is from East Texas, asked what the local industry was. And every time I had the same answer, "Oh, most everyone here works in oil, most as roughnecks. And there's always a few that cling to cattle ranching." For meat-eaters in my audience, please think to buy organic or ranch-raised beef when you purchase beef, since that money often goes into the desperately poor communities I grew up around.
My mother's neighborhood was amazing. Since their last house caught fire, they had to move and boy did we get to see what you can get on the dollar in West Texas. Suffice it to say, the house they bought was more than four times the size of mine for less that twice the money. I nearly fainted when I walked in the door. I completely forgot how people with middle class incomes can live like kings in West Texas. Mostly, I was happy to see how happy my mother is, and that mattered more than anything else to me. You can tell more about a loved one's state in looking at him/her for 5 seconds than you can off an hour phone call, and my mother was glowing.
Conversation was completely pleasant. Conservative politics stayed in the corner of the room generally, and while you couldn't hear the actual words coming from the self-satisfied middle-aged men, you could tell from the harrumphing tone of voice that was what they were discussing. Topics of conversations I had were everything from addiction to Ebay and thrift shopping to love of torch singers and what a shame it is there just doesn't seem to be anyone out there who's up to the standards of Nina Simone. My grandmother did tell me that while she doesn't understand why I'm a liberal, she looks forward to reading the feminist stuff on my website because she agrees with a lot of feminist stuff. I just smiled and thanked her.
My boyfriend and I did sit at the kid's table, but that was fair because they doled it out according to age as I expect it should be done. As it was, I ended up being the head of the kid's table, being the oldest grandchild. It was hardly a kid's table, anyway, as there was only one real child sitting there, and everyone else was in their late teens and up. The one child, by the way, got completely spoiled due to her status as the only believer in Santa Claus that was present. Eating Santa's cookies and leaving a note was a project that involved no less than 10 people.
My mother still writes, "From Santa" on many of my gifts and this year Santa gave gifts to both myself and my boyfriend. You know you are a grown-up when you squeal and jump around because Santa gave you a bagless vaccum cleaner. I did get deeply involved in playing dolls with my cousin who has something called Bratz instead of Barbie. I have to admit, I was a little jealous. Bratz have some nice clothes. My Barbies looked like the cast of "Dynasty". Bratz also don't have a kitchen in their van--they have an expresso machine, hot tub, martini bar, and a dance floor. Bratz don't have beds, because I guess they party all night.
Yes, we played one ton of board games.