By Taylor Griffin
NEW YORK – My loved ones joke around that Texas lost me the first day I got here when I was 15 years old, which is not entirely true; I’ve just felt a magnet pulling me back harder and harder ever since. This week, however, I’ve felt that same magnet repel me the other way back home.
For the last couple months, I’ve felt my Texas roots growing weaker as I’ve tried to build my nest in the Big Apple. Of course, I’m incredibly proud of where I come from, but apparently there’s just some things about me that don’t allow this Bible Belt girl to sink into the New York crowd.
Unbeknownst to me, my accent leaves no uncertainty about where I come from; I suppose the way I pronounce my days of the week like “Saturdee” is a dead giveaway. My coworkers love that I greet them with “mornin’, y’all” or often show my sympathy with “bless your heart.” Their faces are priceless when I tell them I can shoot a gun, trot a horse and line dance with my stompin’ cowboy boots. Texan state pride even surprises me sometimes.
This week especially has had its way with me. After coming off a hard work and school crunch last week, I guess I was emotionally compromised enough to have a mid-semester mini breakdown.
To start off, we slow jammed to Michael Bublé to beat our own Monday blues at the office, and when I requested the “Home” collaboration with Blake Shelton, my mood plummeted unexpectedly. Between the deliciously sappy lyrics and Blake’s country croon, I got a little misty eyed. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be in my native state as if New York had, for a second, overstayed its welcome.
Though I left my boots at home, I’ve been keeping a steady stream of my good ol’ Texas Red Dirt music going since I left in August, sort of as my sacred totem whilst I walk the concrete jungle. Even that playlist couldn’t remedy my homesickness that day.
Several times throughout the day, I checked my Facebook and Twitter feeds only to find excitement for Homecoming week festivities back in Bear Country. My Baylor inbox was frequented with Homecoming emails that would have annoyed me if I were still in Waco. Instead, I read every word and depressed myself even more. I swear, that was the first time I had ever read a Baylor Horizon email all the way through.
My day turned into one of those “everything’s happening all at once” kind of days. More than anything, it was a build up of several things in my life that would seem easier to deal with if I were at home. Not to mention I was walking around in a brand new pair of cute shoes that were slowly killing my tootsies.
Luckily, it passed by the next morning, as those homesick episodes often do. After all, I had to keep in mind that I still have a big weekend ahead. Who would miss Halloween in New York when you’re dressing up as—wait for it—a Litchfield inmate from “Orange is the New Black”? Genius, I know.
While I’m not ready to leave New York, Texas seems like a nice getaway trip right about now—words I never though I’d utter. I’m incredibly close to my family, and being away from them without a break is perhaps the most difficult part of it all. My birthday is on Thanksgiving Day this year, and since it’s always fallen during the school break, I’ve never spent a birthday away from my mom. Of course, Monday marked exactly a month until November 27, a stinging reminder that I won’t be with my family for either the holiday or my special day.
My sweet Mimi sends me two cards a week, many of them with the exact number of days left until she gets to hug me again. Her cards are either filled with an in depth explanation of what she’s doing right that second or sometimes a simple one liner like “Thinking of you.” Going from seeing her every single day this summer to a few phone calls a week is brutal, but it’s the stack of cards on my nightstand that makes it seem like Texas is ready to have me back.
After a hard day, Monday evening I attended a program-sponsored event to mingle with Baylor alumni living in the city as well as snag a few business cards for future contacts. One of the biggest reiterations I heard all night was that the biggest mistake one could make trying to live here is to neglect finding community. Without a sense of belonging or connection with others, anyone is doomed to fail. The city is huge and quite easy to get lost emotionally, but with a network or community, success just seems to flow more easily.
That essentially is the key to thriving in a big city: finding your home. I’ve find a home in many chapters of my life, but this one seems to pose the biggest challenge in proximity to my real one. Upon talking with a few of my friends, turns out, we’ve all been feeling a little sick for the familiar up here.
However, this Homecoming week, in my mind, will give all of us the encouragement and pat on the back we need. I can’t wait to cheer on my Bears Saturday with my New York family all while mentally shaking my fist at all my lucky friends back home living it up in McLane Stadium.
I’ll never lose my East Texas drawl, ditch my country sayings or forget to pardon myself by saying, “Do what?” until I rub all these Yankee ears raw. In fact, I’m happy to bring a little southern hospitality to this oft-edgy state. New York is full of endless possibilities, and while I plan to come back to foster my career, my home is in Texas, y’all.