My Mom is an avid iced tea drinker, and her all-time favorite tea hails from McDonald’s.
For as long as I can remember she’s gotten a large McDonald’s iced tea every day, and I feel fairly certain that whether we were in Louisiana, Alabama or Florida, the large Styrofoam cups were the same … But not in Texas. I noticed about 10 years ago on my first visit to Houston when my family moved here after Hurricane Katrina that the cup said: “Don’t mess with Texas.”
At the time I remember thinking, “Really?” but the longer I live here, the more I get it.
You don’t just move to Texas; Texas moves into you.
While I can’t find the source for this quote, the sentiment couldn’t describe my experience of living here any better. As a native Louisianan, I come from some serious “culture.” For better or for worse, our state, New Orleans in particular, has a reputation that precedes itself, and I wasn’t sure Texas could measure up against that heritage. However, it didn't take long at all before I was proud to call myself a Texan, and here are just a few of my reasons why:
1. Tex-Mex. Bring on the burritos! Not often does the fusion of two cultures lead to such iconic cuisine. It’s a little spicy, a lot awesome, and I’m hooked.
2. No state income tax. It’s not often that the government decides you may know what’s best to do with your money, but Texas does.
3. Friday night football games. Not the movie, and not the TV show … But the real Friday night lights of high school football games are epic. Sixteen-year-old young men become transformed into the heroes of grade-school kids, and it’s good clean fun for the whole family.
4. Blue Bell ice cream. I grew up loving Blue Bell, and there is no amount of Ben & Jerry’s that can change that. They had me at Rocky Road.
5. The museums. MFAH and The Menil are in our backyard, but there top-rated museums of all kinds spread across our great state. Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon all offer unique exhibits for every interest.
6. Bluebonnets. Even the smallest patch of bluebonnets brightens my day. I look forward to seeing our landscape change into a sea of flowery blue every spring.
7. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Although my rodeo experience is limited, I feel like this is an awfully special event. It’s the perfect blend of old rodeo tradition, animal education and new talent. Wild horses can’t keep me away!
8. Chuck Norris. I loved watching “Walker Texas Ranger” with my dad growing up, and, come on, this guy is seriously impressive. After all, I heard that Chuck Norris counted to infinity … twice.
9. NASA. One of the most remarkable things humanity has been able to do, is travel in space and land on the moon. The Lone Star State has been instrumental in all space-related activities since 1961, and, if you live in the Houston area, you have a greater chance at meeting an astronaut than anywhere else in the world, which is just cool.
10. #texanshelpingtexans. Ethnicity, gender, and age are irrelevant when it comes to being there for your fellow Texan. If you need help, your neighbors are ready and willing to lend a hand, and it warms my heart to see this level of compassion getting some national attention.
While I love my Louisiana heritage, I am proud to call Texas home. As they say, "I may not be from Texas, but I got here as fast as I could." As we all try to get back to normal in the wake of Harvey, I wish you more fall weather, less traffic and lots of sweet tea.
Jordan Schupbach is a mother of three living in the Houston area. She blogs at www.lattesandliving.com - sharing the good, the bad and the frenzied.