I moved from New York City to Houston, following my husband at the time.
I'm still learning to deal with Texas things like floods and snakes.
I consider my children New Yorkers more than Texans and sometimes wish we were still there.
It is up to me to teach my kids what a real pine tree is, with its dignified triangle shape and the long branches that I would make forts under at my childhood home in New York.
The view has changed a lot during the past five years. My children were born in New York City. As toddlers, they played in the American Museum of Natural History, joined baby-music classes on the Upper East Side, gnawed on street pretzels, and threw leaves in the air in Central Park.
I had originally expected to be a Manhattan mom, but over the years I've come to accept they are now southern kids living in Houston, Texas.
They wear shorts year-round, wear sunshine on their skin, crave Whataburger, have never made a snowman, and get pumped for Go Texan Day, dressed in boots, vests, and hats — it's like Halloween twice a year in my eyes.
I moved to follow my then-husband
It wasn't my idea to move from a comfortable life in Manhattan to Houston, my ex's home city. I thought it was supposed to be temporary, but I was wrong.
Texas showed me BBQ festivals, square dancing, bluebonnets, and the flaws of my marriage. Now with a Texas divorce decree and the kids settled in school with friends and activities, it seems like I'm stuck here for good, or at least until my kids grow up.
It wasn't until after the divorce that I realized the seriousness of hurricane season and flooding while watching the rainwater rush to the bayou behind my apartment. I felt discombobulated trying to figure out what supplies I needed. I knew creeks, canals, rivers, and ditches. A bayou — a muddy, slow-moving waterway system — is definitely not the Hudson River, not with soft droopy banks that barely hold up during a rainstorm. As a gentle Texas rainfall can become torrential in minutes, I purposely chose the second floor.
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I worry about my kids' safety more than before
There are also experiences that remind me I'm in Texas, like a dead snake's skin being tangled in my daughter's scooter wheels, a "beware of alligators" sign at a playground, armadillo sightings, a lack of road shoulders, and guns-and-ammo signs next to a pet store.
I worry about my kids' safety wherever they go while living in a state with historically loose gun laws. I worry about what women's health will be like for my daughter's generation. I debate on how young of an age I will tell her about contraceptives because of the war on women's access to care and treatment in this state.
In my grief and displacement, I consider my children half New Yorkers. The ZIP code they were born in is a way to remind them there is a whole world out there beyond the Lone Star State.
I will always long for a big, fat sugar-maple leaf. The tall loblolly pine still makes my eyebrow arch in wonder. I'll forever crave an orange-and-maroon horizon of foliage, but for my kids' sake, I'm focusing on making Texas mine somehow.
I know my kids will not have northern childhood memories as I do, and that brings sadness, but I cannot leave where I'm from behind. Though I never planned to be here, they can have both and it is up to me to share with them the beauty in both places, despite the differences.
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