Ya’all have been walking with me on this journey; that of a Midwestern Jewish woman living in the Hill Country. I thank you kindly for that.
The decision to move to Texas really seems to be one that Creator worked out in a really interesting way. When all the pieces fell into place I was quite stunned. I know we all miss some of the blessings and “signs” that God gives us about the direction of our lives. We get too loud on the inside. My fiancé calls this a human “doing” rather than a human “being”. It does well to take a break from all the noise in our lives and simply reflect. We do this when we go to synagogue, church or just sit outdoors among God’s creation.
On a personal level I saw the early stages of the American economy melting down when I found out in early spring 2008 that my clerical job at the University of Iowa Healthcare would be eliminated by the end of September. I heard this through a good friend that is an employee for the University, my job was part of the outsourced “Extended business office” and the decision was made to bring the work back in-house, hence the job loss.
I had a brief moment of panic but actually felt more relieved than anything. The path of my life was actually taking me out of Iowa, out of the heartland to begin with. I love Iowa but it has never struck me as being my “forever home” as I’ve mentioned earlier. I graduated from community college with an associate’s degree in liberal arts, my lease for the one room I rented in the house that I dubbed “the hellhole” near downtown Iowa City was about to end.
So everything worked out that in August of 2008, I packed my cat, my books and clothes and moved to the Hill Country. Of course that is the hottest time of the year and with a divine sense of humor, my air conditioning decided to quit working. So I drove over 1,000 miles with a yowling, frustrated cat and no air conditioning.
I love this land; it’s in my bones as I am Native American also through a great-grandma. That part of my heritage has always spoken to me loudly. This land is known by Native Americans as Turtle Island and even thought Native people have endured over 500 years of genocidal policy, they (we) are still here and Turtle Island carries the bones, heart and soul of our people.
And it’s this very land that I enjoyed on the way down, watched it transition from prairie hills and flat spots to the plains and finally the beautiful Hills. When I left Iowa, I left behind emotional junk, the beloved Iowa River and the massive floods that devastated many areas of Iowa. I was headed toward a land that tells different stories, whispers different secrets to me. There are stories to be told, but that always starts with listening; to the wind, other people, and animals. It comes with donning a new perspective, to being open. I left behind the land of Obama-Biden and my ancestral roots and memories to build new things. This is Texas, the blessed state of Texas, the place of blossoming bluebonnets and cowboy churches. The state that captures my attention because my fiancé is here and his roots are deep here. Texas tells you to make yourself at home. This land has endured a brutal drought in some places, horrible hurricane impact along the coast. Texas lays its contradictions out for the whole world to see, straightforward honesty, ready to be explored.
In the weeks to come, this Midwestern Jewish woman will be out and about learning from YOU, my fellow Texans. At wildflower festivals, visits to the chamber of commerce, it is time to gain more understanding. Next stop: what about the Jews in the Hill Country?