Thursday, April 23, 2015

Paradoxes, Part One

I have said that Texas is a state of mind,
but I think it is more than that....
-John Steinbeck

I wore boots yesterday and went to a ranch. The community's raising money for a local young woman, an avid equestrian, who has cancer. She's a beautiful girl from a beautiful family, and folks turned out to buy nachos, sing karaoke, bid on auction items, and take selfies with horses named Rio and Blackjack and Pongo.

Have you ever been to Texas? It's a confounding place. It's the land of paradoxes- it's steamy and it's dusty. It's the plains and the ocean. It's palm trees and snow. It's liberal hipster and skeevy redneck. It's loud, it's serene, it's bustling, it's remote. 

It's impossible to be bored in Texas. I think that's why I stay. That, and it's where my family is- both sides. They all sailed from England, landed in Virginia, wagon-trained to Georgia, and settled in Texas. The men had names like Bird and Tavner and Abner. And William. Always, William. They worked hard and fought harder and preached, some. I've been putting together a family tree on Ancestry and got word that I could apply to be a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) gal, just like Emily Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. That revelation hit like a smack to the funny bone- hilarious, yet sharp/deep at the same time. Paradox, again.

Lately it's been on my mind how important it must be: the where we come from and who we are. Is it something you ever think about? Is it something you believe matters? I mean, I was raised to understand that Texas isn't just a place, it's in your blood. It's your birthright. But I have always felt like I belonged in a windy, gray, salted-air ocean place, too... like I know something I don't and am carrying a secret no one's ever told me. Crazy paradox, I know.

So I'm about to tell some stories... I'm about to string words together and make a chain from William to Brin, from history to present. It feels necessary, somehow. Necessary, and yet a completely frivolous way to spend these precious days. Could be a present state of mind, but I think it's more than that....

More to come on this.

14 comments:

Rebecca said...

I love that you are doing this! And that you will tell us your stories. I come from a family of wild, gypsy type people...artists, writers, high strung scotsmen and women. I've wanted to do ancestry for a long time. My mom loved doing it before I lost her so long ago. But, I'm afraid to start...I'm afraid I may never come back.

Leiah said...

I found our recently that Jonathan Harrington, one of the first casualties in the American Revolution (Battle of Lexington & Concord), is an ancestor on my maternal grandmother's side of the family. I also discovered her paternal grandfather was a Confederate veteran who served in the LA Infantry, Company K. Who knew grandma had such a fascinating legacy? Can't wait to read William's journey!

Melodee said...

The older I get the more I find myself looking back and wanting to know more about my ancestors (I have a William in there too). I look forward to hearing your stories.

Brin said...

Wow. That's so how I kinda look at it, too. But I'm going ahead. Do it with me if you feel so inclined? Maybe it's something you could do for both your mom and yourself.... Either way, thanks for chiming in. :)

Brin said...

That is SO COOL!! AMs quite a legacy of bravery and sacrifice. Thanks for sharing that. If you find out more, tell us, please...if you want. And thanks for the kind words.

Brin said...

Ditto. I wonder what our Williams were up to? I'm excited to find out. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the encouragement. :)

Brin said...

AMs= that's. Autocorrect. Sheesh. :)

Sue Neitzel said...

My Mum was born and raised in England and I'd love to trace that side of my family one day! I do believe this belonging comes with age, putting roots down and adding a family, happy tracing!

Terri Steffes said...

I am eager to read your stories. My family has stories, too, back to England. I am a DAR and I love the history connection.

Brin said...

For some reason, Blogger didn't put my replies under the corresponding comments. Grrrr. Sorry about that, y'all! :/

Rebecca said...

Oh Brin... I meant to tell you about our William too...my mom was able to trace her family back to William the Bruce of Scotland. I guess, depending on what side of the fence you sit on, that may or may not be something to be proud of...but she use to laugh and tell us we were princesses many times removed. This post has made me think about my mom alot. :) Thank you.

Durf said...

Yeah, I definitely feel a connection to the past. My past is in Rhode Island, where my ancestors settled in the 1600's in Tiverton, then moved to Fall River, Mass. Then to the Berkshires (western Mass.). I don't feel that I could ever leave New England.

Adrienne said...

I've only been to a bit of the corner of Texas for overnight. It was with a choir I was part of in college. On tour, we just stopped, sang, spent the night and were gone. So I can't really say I've been to Texas. But my heart longs to do that some day when my sweetheart and I are free to travel. I can't wait to hear more of your story. I've been feeling a nudge to research more of mine and tell it, too. It's an important part of who we are. I'm from hardy, pioneer folks who braved the rigors of much to survive and pass on their strength to me. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. I look forward to everything you share.
~Adrienne~

Sarah said...

That has to be the most precise and heartfelt explanation of the desire to research family history that I have ever read. It's more than just linking name to name. It's about a deep desire to discover their stories, who they are- and in turn, who I am. Thank you for so beautifully voicing the very thing I could never quite find the words to explain!