by Andrea Elizabeth
This NY Times quiz using a Harvard dialect study says that my use of colloquialisms come from Lubbock, Tx. I am not sure how this came about since the only place I’ve lived is in or near DFW metroplex, with the last half of my life in Weatherford, a little it west of there, but not near as west as Lubbock, which I’ve only drivin through twice and as an adult at that. For the quiz I chose words from my childhood where my memories are from Mesquite and Arlington. My friend, who I met in high school in the largely northern immigrated Arlington, grew up in Beaumont, but got cow-town Ft. Worth for her word origination. My parents both grew up in Louisiana, and their parents were from Mississippi and Arkansas. The only thing I can figure is that west Texas is where my heart lies. Growing up I loved westerns. I wanted a horse so bad, it was all I could think or dream of. Outdoor play was mimicking riding a horse. I suppose I mimicked cowboy language as well.
The best thing was pretending to ride about like the Lone Ranger through all that wilderness with surprises around every rock. The Big Bend area of Texas, and east of there along the Rio Grand, to the west side of the Pecos confluence, is very much like that. Judge Roy Bean, the law in those parts, is the symbol of home spun, but authoritative west Texas wisdom. East Texas is more associated with southern hierarchical formality. I’m more of a maverick and a renegade, despite my lineage.
How does this independent spirit fit in Orthodoxy? I’ll tell you it’s a struggle, and maybe why there is only one OCA mission west of I-35, which happens to be in Alpine, close to Big Bend. There are Greek and Antiochian Churches in the bigger cities however. Here’s an interesting web post from the Greek Church in San Angelo:
“An Eastern Orthodox Church may seem out-of-place in West Texas. The rough and tumble frontier heritage at first glance does not seem to fit very well with the ancient church of the east, Byzantium, and the ecumenical councils. Much about it may seem foreign and alien to Texans at first glance. But, that is only if we look at the surface. In reality, deep down, where things matter most they have more in common than one may realize.
The dry desert is where they both were born and where they grew up. They have passed through episodes of violence, privation and adversity which have become an integral part of their character. They hold fast to the ways of their fathers and, although they embrace new ways of doing things, they know deep down that the old ways are usually the best. They also know that the words we say do not mean nearly as much as what we do and how we live. Fiercely independent, they are also fiercely loyal and understand that they can accomplish more by working together than by working at odds with each other.
The Orthodox faith fits the West Texas character very well.”
I remember one time while I was working as a utilization review nurse for an insurance company where we had to interview patients to determine medical necessity, there was this one older gentleman from the Lubbock area who could not understand my questions, until I slipped very easily into my west Texas inflections. Where you speak in the enthusiastic twangy upper register. How y’all do-in?! This was the same natural slip I made in Boston one time working as a receptionist that caused one of the uppity principals I had transferred a call to to call me back and just say, “‘okey dokey?'”. There is no life in the speech of northerners. Life makes them uncomfortable so you have to squelch it. This is also why they mainly wear black.