Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Artfully Meandering: Southwestern Soul

I have relocated to a place I’ve always wanted to live…Asia. As I go through culture shivers and culture shocks, I realize…I’m a Southwestern Soul. There is something about the Southwest in which I felt “at home” and “me.”

I still haven’t been able to identify exactly what it is about the Southwest that makes me feel this way. I think it's a combination of factors.

country music, southern manners, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, prairie skirts, jean jackets, longhorns, constant sunshine, big sky, wide open spaces, bluebonnets, firewheels, Indian paintbrush, poppies, turquoise, silver, armadillos, geckos, rusted farm implements, adobe homes, stone homes, leather furniture, rawhide furniture, rough-hewn Mexican furniture, cactus, town squares, desert mountains, Louis L'Amour paperbacks, ranches, oil derricks, arched adobe windows, adobe fireplaces, scraped wood flooring, scraped wood tables, punched tin, pick-up trucks, hay bales, loyalty, independence, interdependence, individuality, artistry, crepe myrtles, live oaks, mesquite, Texas barbeque, fence posts, barbed wire, horses, cattle

I have moved all over the place in the US. I love physical features about every one of those places. Whenever I moved away from those places, I missed certain physical features. I miss the food. But, what I missed most were the people. Texas is the first place where I’m not only homesick for people but I’m homesick for the place. There were definitely things I could live without—the wild thunderstorms, tornadoes, and fire ants. I could also live without the suburbs. I’ve lived all my life in suburbs save for a few years in small towns in Maine and Indiana. Small town living made me realize I really dislike the suburbs...they are so anonymous.

Something I think I like about Texas is the culmination of the culture and the place. Southern courtesy is rampant—every man allows a woman on the elevator first or opens a door for a woman. It’s really inefficient, but it’s oh so nice to be treated politely. I love and adore Southwestern style…the eclectic mix of modern and old, organic and urban. In particular, the sensibility of southwestern style that appeals to me is the hand-textured, simple, clean, and uncluttered aesthetic.

Although I mentioned I don't care for suburbs, I have to admit, that living in a suburb of a large city provided access to the broad range of people I was able to get to know. There is a certain independence and interdependence that seems part of the culture. I have a diverse set of friends: some who are farmers, some who raise longhorn cattle, some who have a little land for their horses and dog, and some who are the ultimate urbanites. And the artists! Tucked into this anonymous suburb are writers, playrights, actors, painters, graphic artists, jewelry artists, woodworkers, musicians, soap-makers, seamstresses, photographers, poets, to name a few. The people who I have the privilege to call my friends are the best part of Texas for me—fiercely loyal, independent, individual people who are themselves. I have friends who represent almost everything that is “me.” I’ve made some really wonderful friends in Texas. Texas is also where I learned who I was, where I didn't feel afraid to be my genuine self, and released my creative self to explore with happy permission. I’m still not brave enough to be myself at all times. So, that’s why I think I have a special affinity to the place that is Texas …it's the place where I’ve become comfortable with who I am.

So, this month is for enjoying my happy memories of my previous home in the Southwestern United States...Texas.

Post Script: Just in case you’re worried about me living in Hong Kong, I’m a glass half full person and tend to live on the positive side of life. I have learned the joy of blooming where I am planted. Yes, the culture shivers and shocks put little dents in the tender little roots of establishment I'm putting down. But I'm a stubborn plant that overcomes transplant trauma to become hardy, well-rooted foliage. (Sometimes I need to say that last point out loud to remind myself...but, I am. I'm a Southwestern Soul who lives in Asia.)

And one more thing: thank you to Marina H. for helping me with my Southwestern Soul theme this month. She did a poster for the Noisy Plume as a result of Nancy McKay's blog party...and well, I just had to commission to create my version...isn't it COOL!


  1. I'm a SW soul myself, with a twist. I am a native Texan who would happily move to Santa Fe. I LOVE Santa Fe dearly and, one day, I will find myself there. I hope. It is just such an art center; I can't help but be drawn to it like a moth to a flame! In the meantime, I do like Texas, except for the confounded summer heat.

  2. I'm down with Santa Fe, too! (Maybe even more...) but, I just had to mention Texas...well, cuz I'm homesick for y'all!

    Confounded heat seems to everywhere. It was only 33 (ahem, celsius) here today. While that isn't that hot, the humidity...oh, my. It was only 74% today. The weekend was hovering at 78-80% humidity.

  3. Yay! July is here!!

    As I've been pulling pieces from this post and making text art out of them, I must say I LOVE all of your sentiments. Artists, friends, courtesy. It puts "The South" back up where it should be.

    I'm so happy to be able to help you add some Southwestern Soul to your pretty blog. Can't wait to see how the rest turn out here!!


  4. Thank you, Marina! I LOVED what you've done to help me create that's been so fun! Especially since I don't live in Texas anymore and I have a limited set of Texas pictures. This helped me "stretch" what I had and even better, helped me create a theme and a look I want to embrace long term. Thanks bunches! (P.S. I love your sneak peek art..)

  5. I love the texas poster its fab and this was a really interesting read too so I just wanted to say thank you :o)

  6. Thank you Just Me...I think Marina did a great job of capturing my Texas theme. I'm so pleased!

  7. being a new mexican, I would never want to live in Santa fe as it is now....too touristy ( and EXPENSIVE)...but the northern part of my state holds my heart....and I thank you Jenn for this lovely description of how a place can hold your soul!....I feel like I just took a little visit home by reading this!

  8. Oh! Thank you, Kerin Rose! As a transplanted Texas (that is, non-native) that is THE BEST compliment to writing this post...that I was able to capture the essence of the Southwest and give you a feeling home. I felt at home in Texas.