Texas is really big. I saw that from the window in the tiny airplane that took me to Midland. This I saw while the biggest lady I have ever sat next to took up half of my seat, besides her own. “I am sorry I am so big,” she said when I struggled to get past her. “And I am glad you are so small.” It was also a very small airplane. From my window I saw en eternity of flat landscape and perfectly square and round fields, all in hues of brown. The round fields interested me. It was as if somebody had made them using a compass. Is it a Texan thing, I wondered. Making round fields, just to create some variety.
I was met at the airport by my favorite Texan friends, Trip and Porter, who are 10 and 11. They were dressed in their suits and ties and welcomed me with serious handshakes. In the car back to their house they wanted to hear about the tax system and the form of government we have in Norway. They also were interested in Kristin. “You can make a whole bundle of money from drilling oil,” they told me later. Then they spent time explaining how oil had come into being in the first place. They also played the piano for me to hear, and told me about all kinds of interesting things I didn’t know.
I am here to speak about Partners and Burma. No surprise there. I spoke to a group of youth tonight and we connected just fine. I could have been their mother. I knew some things that they were into because I am the mother of teenagers myself. I asked if they rock climbed, and they looked at me funny. I quickly understood why: There are no rocks to climb here in Midland.
It is one of the areas of the world where God ran out of imagination. When Ken picked us up once when we came here, he said it was good we came in the evening so that we would not see how ugly it was until the next day. People who live here mostly work in the oil industry. They have oil here. That is what they have. And, the funny thing is that people love living here too. To me that sounds like a lie. There is nothing to do and all around there is only desert. If you want to see a mountain (hill) you must drive at least two hours. The only place to go running is on the track, in circles, on the collage campus. George Bush lived here.
“Yes, it is ugly, but we love it because of the people,” they all say when I ask how they manage to survive without valium. “We would rather live here than anywhere else.” They speak like Texans do, with a slow drawl. They are generous and hospitable. They give of their time and resources, they stop by each other’s houses just to say Hi. They make fine cowboy boots and hats not far from here, they have oil and friends. What more does one need when you think about it?
Would I rather live in an ugly place and have a bunch of friends or in a pretty place with no friends? Another option is of course to live in a pretty place and have friends. But some times that is impossible.