Celebrating my second year of moving back to my two hometowns – Cisco and Eastland – in conjunction with a very significant birthday, I gave myself over to a moment of reflection and self examination.
Okay, more than a moment, probably the last three months. It was a really significant birthday.
The move two years ago was what I am sure was an answer to my age-old prayer: “What do you want me to do now, God?” It’s been an adventure. God is never boring.
Being back in Cisco is like walking through a door in time. Some things haven’t changed an inch – Eastland High School, the First Baptist Church of Cisco, the occasional deer spotted on the side of the road. Some have changed immensely – the old dam and swimming pool have turned into Roman ruins, Eastland has a bright and shining new high-school and junior-high- school campus. And all my friends seem to have grown quite mature.
Best of all, I have a sense of peace I haven’t experienced in a long time. Not gonna miss those asphalt deserts in Dallas, and it only takes one long weekend to remind me how many hours of my life were devoted to highway construction, traffic blockages and wrecks, road rage, and freeway idiots.
If calculations are correct, that 40 years in Dallas resulted in five auto accidents, one including a head-on collision on Central Expressway, and believe me, that’s not an easy thing to do on a divided highway. None of those were my fault, of course. If you want details, just ask.
When I first moved back to Cisco, I used to stop at the main stoplight at 8th Street and Conrad Hilton Boulevard, look both ways, and count the number of cars moving on any of the four intersecting streets. “Four!” I would shout with glee. “Six!” yelled with joy. “TWO!” with unbridled ecstasy.
The move has required a few adjustments. There’s no Target, and Walmart is in the next town. (Although in Dallas, I frequently drove at least 10 miles round-trip to Target, the mileage equivalent of driving to Eastland.) There is only one grocery store in each town (although Brookshire’s friendly home-town attitude, good produce and meat, and general atmosphere are more than enough not to long for a gigantic Tom Thumb or Kroger’s).
And there are lovely things I had forgotten. From my little cottage I can hear the junior and high school bands practicing just a few blocks to the south and the roar of the football games a few blocks to the north.
I can get to any Cisco meeting, deliver or pickup my grandson at Cisco College, and find a wonderful place to eat within 10 minutes of my front porch.
And the way everyone – everyone – says hello on the street or in the grocery store or even raises a languid finger from the steering wheel to greet friends and strangers is a secret joy in which I cannot help but revel.
There has been a slight adjustment required for West Texas’ dry, windy atmosphere. At least a quart more per month of super-hydrating skin care. But I love the well-used slogan “The Big Country” in editorial and advertising media. It’s a great descriptive for the High Plains of Texas. And, after all, the only time I’ve ever loved the wind was when I was in my sailing period. Sailboat owners live and breathe for a good, stiff breeze.
What we have here in Eastland County are good stiff breezes that will tear off perfectly healthy green limbs from the tree in the front yard, raise and tear loose the lid to your garbage dumpster, move a 50-pound bag of dirt across the front porch and into the driveway, and make your hair look like the most outrageous member of Twisted Sister. Those all were personal experiences – some more than once.
Walking back through the door in time reminds me of the 1960s Broadway-and-movie hit, Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon, about two American tourists vacationing in Scotland. They stumble across an enchanted Scottish village on the one day of the century when it emerges from the magical mists of Scottish folklore. Gene Kelly, Robert Goulet, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse were among the stars who enacted the production in various reincarnations.
I first saw it when I was 20 years old at an outdoor production in Zilker Park on the banks of Barton Springs in Austin. The romantic, mysterious highland mists and similarly romantic and mysterious love story captured my idealistic young heart. Among the heart-clutching songs were “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Heather on the Hill,” and “Come to Me Bend to Me.”
Oh my goodness. Robert Goulet could sing the Lobo fight song, and I would fall in love. Thus the vagaries of a young, idealistic person – an incurable affliction to which almost every teenage girl succumbs.
Please bear with me as I write an occasional piece on the experience of going back in time – whether through mystical magic transport to the past or a simple move 140 miles west from the Big City to the Mystical Magic Enclave you may call Cisco.