I have had occasion, recently as at other times, to think over my life in Kerrville. I’ve noted elsewhere that that life began in 1988, when my parents relocated from the northwest corner of Louisiana to the Hill Country town, following family events I’ll not get into here. From that point–which was the middle of my Kindergarten year–on, I attended the local public schools, graduating from high school in 2000 and keeping Kerrville as my permanent residence until I moved to Brooklyn, NY, to be with the woman I loved and whom I would marry. And, after my professional life went…otherwise than I would have preferred, we–my wife, our daughter, and I–moved to Kerrville again, living there with the exception of a brief span since 2016.
Growing up in the town when I did and as the kind of kid I was–a bookish little shit, prone to outbursts that landed me in trouble (as they ought to have, really)–I did not like it much. I tried, while I was an undergraduate at UTSA, not to come back often; it didn’t work, and after two years of living on the campus, I moved back into my parents’ house, where I stayed until I went off to graduate school at ULL. While I was there, I came back for many holidays and the occasional hurricane-prompted evacuation–I started grad school the August that Katrina hit, after which, I took such warnings seriously–and when I did, I stayed at home. Much the same was true after I moved to Brooklyn, and it stayed true when I lived in Oklahoma. I thought I did not belong in the town, thought it was all too happy to return that regard.
When I moved back, bringing my family with me, I was therefore somewhat ill at ease. It was a defeat, after all, a running home with my tail between my legs, and one I recognize now (too late to do any good) that I earned through being scornful of where I was before. I still feel some of that, of course; there are people in town who won’t shake my hand, still, and walking through places where I was an asshole reminds me more than my brain already does that I was an asshole. And my habituated curmudgeonliness still pushes me to be home rather than to be out, something that reads better after the novel coronavirus than before but which is still problematic; I still do less than I should to appreciate where I am.
Because, while there are problems with my Hill Country hometown (many, yes, but that’s true everywhere), there are also a lot of good things about it. As I was reminded during Uri, there are many people here who are willing and happy to help complete strangers with no compensation (although the offer of that compensation is obligatory; you always have to ask how much you owe). There’s a lot of good food to eat, and there’s a lot of pretty in town and a short drive away from it. And, for better or worse, it’s home; I grew up here, my family is here, I know its streets and surroundings and people (even if they don’t always like me). It makes sense, and there’s little enough in the world that does. And that’s something.