Small Town America, Inc.

I’m sitting in a lounge in Abilene watching Josh’s dog. He is called Napoleon. He’s currently sleeping on top of the back of a sofa and making silly noises in his doggy dreams. I’m kind of waiting for him to fall off.

After catching up on my sleep, I spent yesterday lounging around the house and chatting away, then Josh came home and we went out to get some Thai food. It had fresh vegetables, which I found to my surprise I had really missed. Shipping produce across 900 miles of land is a bit of a task, I guess. Later, we booked seats in Perini’s, which has a legitimate claim to Best Burgers in America. Controversial stuff, but their website is very pretty, isn’t it? Incidentally, last night I played through Braid and you should too. Great game.

Today, I ventured out on bike to see what I could see of this quiet Texas settlement.

Abilene is a small, well-to-do town of leafy streets and white picket fences. The downtown area doesn’t hold much apart from an old Paramount cinema from back in the day when the major companies owned their own screens, and a smattering of bars. I couldn’t spend much time there though, as we had to get to Perini’s. The place was good, but had kinda poor service. And I gotta say, the best burgers I’ve had have been in tiny little places in Atlanta and San Antonio, the latter being barely a spec on the road by a railway.

On the way back we stopped in a minute village called Buffalo Gap (presumably to go with Moose Factory and Pigeon Forge). It’s a charming place with a population of about 430 people (and six tumbleweeds), full of secret avenues, old oak trees, rusted-up machinery and swaying grasses. There’s a lot of small, curious-looking shops and shacks, and but for more time and better light, I would have happily spent several hours wandering around. It really was very beautiful; this area of Texas is surprisingly verdant, with a generous water table. The towns aren’t perfect – we passed a crack house in Abilene – but they’re small, reserved, and peaceful.

This is Real America™ ®Sarah Palin Patriotic Holdings Co. ©2008. I can’t say however that it’s much different from the rest of America when it comes to what matters, and though political leanings, religious beliefs and the idiosyncrasies of mannerisms that vary from state to state lend each area I’ve been to their own distinct micro-cultures, there’s no denying it: what have I seen everywhere I’ve gone? The same basic human decency, the same love for life, the same respect for others and the kindness of strangers. Though responses range from ‘we’re the richest country in the world, we shouldn’t have people dying in the streets’, to ‘who says you have the right to healthcare?’, and though there’s a heck of a stronger church presence down here than up north, and though the north treats the south with superciliousness and the south treats the north with scorn and though sometimes you get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, everything is about to explode

Life carries on. Good people are good. And if you talk to people you might find out, for instance, that a great deal of the south’s anti-Big Government attitude is significantly due to their local politics being a corrupt mess (mind you, one girl did also tell me, somewhat coyly, ‘we want all the freedoms we can possibly have, even those that aren’t good for us’). There are reasons why people think things and, easy as it is to do, grouping people into Red and Blue is just silly. I’ve spoken to oil rig workers, commercial divers, healthcare insurance people, programmers, nurses, students, parents, and everything in between. People are just people like you, and such. Even as Wallmarts rise up through the turf and adverts everywhere pressure you to buy, buy, buy, everywhere I’ve been has had the same basic principals. America hasn’t lost anything of its soul.

3 Responses to “Small Town America, Inc.”

  1. 1 Renée 06/08/2009 at 12:13 am

    I’m aggravated with you now. You made me all misty-eyed.


  2. 2 Eben 06/08/2009 at 5:22 am

    ‘we want all the freedoms we can possibly have, even those that aren’t good for us’ has got to be a chat-up line.

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