We were at the end of the earth, and I was home.

A genuine Texas sun above a desert landscape. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford
A genuine Texas sun above a desert landscape. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

HAVE YOU EVER HAD a nightmare that came true?

Well, I did.

I had a reoccurring dream that I lived in a small house with ugly kitchen cabinets.

I cried,” Why did you move me from my dream home?”

I enjoyed a comfortable life as a stay-at-home mom in a four story, twelve room house.

My husband had an amazing profession as Chief Photographer for Southern Living Magazine.

Returning from an out-of-town assignment, he announced that he and Caleb, Travel Editor for the magazine, had decided to start their own business.

“Where?” I wondered.

“We closed our eyes over a Texas map, let a finger drop, and it landed on Waxahachie,” they said.

“Waxa-What?”

“Waxa-Where?” I questioned.

Faye Crawford
Faye Crawford

Before I knew what was happening, my nightmare began to unfold.

“You did what?”

Quit your job?”

“What are you thinking?”

On January 1,1977, we flew to Shreveport, Louisiana, where Caleb’s dad met us.

“I hope you enjoy your first visit to Texas,” Mr. Pirtle said.

From his home in Kilgore, we headed west.

The Dallas mixmaster, covered in one and a half inches of sleet that had fallen paralyzing north Texas, was tremendously scary and incredibly dangerous.

Some way to begin a new year!

There we were.

Strangers in town.

No jobs.

“We want to buy houses.”

“No problem,” the banker told us.

A realtor showed us the only three houses that were available in the small town of 15,000.

Two houses were in a new development called Indian Hills.

In the first place, where were the hills?

All I saw was a barren, flat desert.

No trees, no landscaping.

Nothing.

Nothing but two foot icicles hanging from the eaves of the houses.

I didn’t want to be in the wide open spaces where all I could see was a broad expanse of prairie with no vegetation except fields of cotton and maze. The City was absolute treeless, with an exception of an occasional group of trees. How could anyone live without woods?

Linda, Caleb’s wife, asked, “Which house do you like?”

“Neither.” I shrugged. “Buy the one you want,” I answered.

She chose the one on Chieftain.

That left the one on Sagebrush.

I liked both street names.

I think the builder used left over wallpaper from other houses to decorate without a specific color scheme.

Then, I saw it!

The tiny, ugly kitchen that was in my dream.

While staying at Brookside Inn, Gerald and Caleb, talked excitedly about their new adventure.

Linda mentally placed every piece of her furniture in each room.

I was heartsick over the entire situation.

Gerald had a pioneering spirit and a vision for what he could achieve.

I had no motivation or enthusiasm for this opportunity for a fresh start to make our fortune. I lacked the courage and perseverance to forge into new territory.

Back in Birmingham, our house was officially up for sale.

My stomach knotted.

We were moving.

No returning.

The dreaded thought of leaving my hometown, family, friends, and my house made me scream.

Relocating was overwhelming.

The moving van left with our possessions.

Gerald was in Florida on assignment.

My parents and sister helped load my Monte Carlo with essentials needed for the trip west.

I walked through the house one last time.

I sobbed.

With the house secured, I went out through the garage and closed the door.

Just as the lock clicked, I panicked.

My keys were in the house.

More tears.

My twelve year old son jumped up on the railing of the deck, grabbed hold of a drain, pulled himself up, and crawled into a bathroom window that I thought I had locked, and retrieved the keys.

Since I couldn’t see through the tears, dad drove us to my parents’ house.

The next morning, I left my familiar life behind.

Sitting in the passenger’s seat, with my six year old daughter in her lap, was my mother.

( Seat belts were not law in those days.)

As we drove through Chunky, Mississippi, my baby lost her first tooth.

My pre-teen in the back seat, read a map and prompted me to use the Citizens Band Radio, a system of short-distance communication to contact truckers for directions to the nearest gas station.

On June 20, 1977, we arrived in Waxahachie, Texas.

Using Stan’s telescope, mother found a grocery store that was two miles away.

The terrible winds reminded me of the westerns that I watched on Saturday mornings where cowboys struggled to shut the door of their ranch houses.

As we unpacked, boxes were placed on the patio. They were carried away in the wind as we watched them tumble high in the sky until they disappeared into the distance.

My first experience of the plains was nauseating.

How could anyone live in this sparse, uncivilized place?

The lifeless black dirt was dry, cracked, and hard as a rock.

Why would anyone want to live so far away from mountains and oceans ?

All I saw was terrible emptiness.

The muggy humidity in Alabama didn’t match the level of the “sauna” a hundred and ten degrees I experienced as we attended a Cabrito Cook Off where there were competitive events of cow chip tossing and demonstrations of proper goat pill flipping techniques.

“Really? “ “ Is this what Texans do for entertainment?” exclaimed mother as she picked up a pill to see if it was authentic.

I thought we had moved to the end of the world. “If I go any further, I will fall off of planet Earth.”

Grieving, I sat on the front stoop and watched the sun, setting in the west, touch the ground leaving the sky a dusky shade of orange and red surrounded in a deep purple.

I became a Texan by choice.

My husband’s choice.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Faye, in spite of your journey to hell, I noticed that even after you left screaming you chose to come back.

  • Faye

    Caleb,
    After living here for twelve years,
    I left Texas with absolutely no desire to ever return. After twenty years,I did make the decision to come back. I am really home, now. Never say never.
    Faye

    • Jarrod Johnson

      That was a perfect read that put a very big smile on my face. You’d told me a lot when I was your student but after so many years and to stumble across this of my FAVORITE teacher’s Memoirs was awesome to the fullest. I am happy to hear from you although not direct. I have always treasured you as my teacher and some what of a counselor and friend.

      Your Ex- student Jarrod Johnson

  • Jarrod Johnson

    That was a perfect read that put a very big smile on my face. You’d told me a lot when I was your student but after so many years and to stumble across this of my FAVORITE teacher’s Memoirs was awesome to the fullest. I am happy to hear from you although not direct. I have always treasured you as my teacher and some what of a counselor and friend.

    Your Ex- student Jarrod Johnson

    • Faye Crawford

      Oh my goodness! Jarrod, you put a very big smile on my face,too!

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