I wish we were sitting on the porch, watching a West Texas sunset one warm summer night.
I think you’d be surprised by how it transforms this barren place. I’d like to chat about how I think it’s a metaphor for life – the surprising beauty in the places we think are wastelands; the simple truth that no place and no one is as uninteresting and flat as they might appear on the surface.
My name is Carrie. Outside of four years living in rural China, West Texas has always been my home.
West Texas is a land of big hair and bigger sky.
It’s a dirt-in-your-teeth landscape peppered with tumbleweeds and oil wells and mesquite and oil wells and bright Friday Night Lights. And a few more oil wells. My family (husband, two daughters, a dog, a hamster, and a few backyard turtles) and I live in Midland, aptly named for its most notable feature: being in the middle of land. (Actually, I think the name came from being the mid-point between El Paso and Ft. Worth when they built a railway, but my version is accurate, too.) Like most everyone in the country, I live in a political bubble; only 5 percent of my neighbors are Democrats.
And you know what? Despite the fact that there’s much about the bubble that I find infuriating, I still love living here.
One of the reasons I write is to help others understand why…
In 2020, after oil briefly dipped negative, I wrote an OpEd for the New York Times. Since then, I’ve written once more for the NYT and The Atlantic, along with articles for Texas Monthly and The Week and the occasional piece for my local paper. (You can find all those articles here.)
I’ve always been curious about different cultures and different ways of being in the world, and for the longest time I mistook my homeland for being an utter wasteland in that regard. Instead, it turns out that living in an easy-to-caricature, frequently misunderstood place positions me to write cross-cultural dispatches. In an age of rampant polarization and disdain for the “other,” I believe staying curious, respectful, working to build bridges and fostering dialogue are all urgent tasks. Writing helps me do this.