My Most Beautiful Thing

Today, I’m taking part in the My Most Beautiful Thing Blogsplash, to promote Fiona Robyn‘s newest novel, The Most Beautiful Thing. I’ve been motivated and inspired by Fiona and Kaspa’s work after I discovered a handful of stones last fall, so I’m happy to join in this celebration of Fiona’s work.

To see what other Blogsplashers are writing about, click here for the full list of participants. 

And as a bonus, Fiona is offering up her novel for free download today and tomorrow. What more incentive do you need to get a copy?

So, without further ado, here is my most beautiful thing. 

Last year, my poem “Traversing Houston by Bus” was accepted for the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar. A few weeks after that, I was talking with Cindy Huyser, one of the Calendar co-editors. She said she liked the poem because it wasn’t “Oh Texas, my Texas.” There was love, but also ambivalence.

I worked on that poem for about three months, and the ambivalence in the poem ended up surprising me. Because, while I frequently say that I don’t like Houston, that was the city where I first felt completely at home in Texas. I’d been in love with Austin before I first even moved here in 2008, but it took about two years before the rest of Texas grew on me.

My dance partner and I were on a party bus in Houston with a group of people from D’Amico Dance, traveling around Houston and doing a west coast swing flash mob in various parts of the city. It was somewhere on the freeway that I felt one of the most profoundly joyful moments of my life. My best friend and I were on this bus with near-strangers, laughing, dancing, and having a great time. That was the moment when Texas–not just Austin–became home, became my most beautiful thing.

It’s not just Austin and Houston, either. It’s the wineries on 290 leading out to Fredericksburg. It’s Enchanted Rock. It’s the cute bookshops in San Antonio. It’s Marfa, Alpine, Terlingua, Big Bend, Valentine, Marathon, and the rest of West Texas. Since that day on the bus in Houston, I’ve become more invested in Texas. And while I haven’t seen even half of it, I love it more and more each day. Austin will always be my home base, but Texas as a whole inspires me every day.

There are times when I get homesick for Ohio. There are times I ponder moving to Manhattan, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Sydney, or any of the other hundreds of cities in the world I might love. But I can’t ever really imagine leaving. Not for very long. And even if I was gone on an extended trip, say 6 months to a year, I would want to know I’d be coming back.

Yes, there are times I’m ambivalent about Texas. It shows up in almost every Texas poem I write. Sometimes, the heat gets too much, even for me (and the warmer, the better for me). And there’s much to dislike about Texas politics. Or the traffic in all of the major cities. Or the fact that even Austin isn’t all that pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

But ambivalence does not mean a lack of love. Texas isn’t perfect, but it’s home. I and while I don’t believe in the concept of each writer having a Muse, the state as a whole comes pretty darn close. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than this.

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