In early 2010, I started weighing the pros and cons of moving back to the United States from Canada. From my perspective, there were almost exclusively pros. The major cons involved the logistical and financial challenges associated with any large move. But, where there's a will, there's a way, and I'm not one to be daunted by these kinds of hurdles. It's not that they're not serious concerns, it's that they can almost always be overcome, if you're dedicated enough to the matter at hand.
It took a couple of years for it to finally happen, but by the summer of 2012, I was living in Texas.
When my friends and colleagues from Ottawa first discovered that I intended to move to Texas, they were incredulous. To them, Texas is more than just cowboy country, it's a symbol of everything uncouth and distasteful about the United States. They see it as some sort of horrible political antithesis to the Canadian way of life.
My family, Stateside, did not respond much more favorably. They teased me about buying a cowboy hat and a pair of boots, about getting a big pickup truck and a gun rack, and developing the iconic accent. Where they once finished off every sentence with the phrase "...eh? Ehhh?" (because I lived in Canada), they took to doing the same sort of thing with the word "y'all." I can take a ribbing, but there was something more serious beneath the surface of it: that same wide-eyed incredulity that my Canadian friends had experienced. Each, in their own way, were frantically trying to understand why a cosmopolitan math-and-data geek with an extreme proclivity toward openness-to-experience and a beautiful wife exactly like myself would ever want to move to the dusty heart of Red State America.
All that is to say, nobody really got it.
At the time, I told them about the warm weather. I told them about my previous trips to Texas, which had been full of good times and good music. In my naivete, I went into my move from the perspective that Texas was a warm place filled with nice, albeit predominantly conservative, people. What's not to like?
So, we moved here two years ago, and we moved here to stay. We packed all of our things in a U-haul trailer that was probably a couple of sizes too large for our small-sized SUV, and drove the distance from Ottawa, Ontario, to New York State, over to Ohio, due south to Arkansas, and finally into Texas.
The world we discovered here exceeded some of our expectations, and completley up-ended others. When I rave about how happy I am here, my friends and family just assume I've sort of "drunk the Kool-Aid," and become another insufferable Texas braggart. But that's not why I appreciate my life here so much. Instead, there are a number of key attributes here that have made my life go from pretty good to pretty-freakin'-awesome, and these are attributes that I feel would appeal to anyone, not just me.
In a series of posts over the next little while, I'd like to discuss the various elements of life in Texas, good, bad, and indifferent. I'd like to paint a picture of why life feels good to me here, and why I think Texas has the bad reputation among non-Texans it has.
In the process, I hope to establish a bit of a philosophy around how to choose a good locale to make yourself happy in the long run. No place on Earth really "has it all," but if you choose to live in a place that has the best of what you want - and as little of what you don't want - as possible, then you can make yourself as satisfied in your own home as I am in mine.