Texas: on first glance

31 Oct

Huey Lewis & The News soundtrack me into the state with The Power of Love. Apt, really; I’ve been travelling at 88mph and I’ve hit a cultural time warp.

Weirdly, Texas feels more foreign to me than Sao Paolo had. The signs are in English, but the fonts lend them the quality of another language, here Serif reigns supreme. This is the thing that has had me at odds the most this week, sort of a visual jet lag – a creeping sense of unease every time I saw a sign for a grocery store or a motel or a laundromat, or any of those other words that are familiarly foreign.

Pylons rush by, speeding giants cutting a slow, deliberate path through the landscape. They must need a lot of electricity here. Another power station flashes by. Storm drains slide past. At least that’s what I think they’re called. Visions of kids drag racing or throwing stones nudge the edge of my memory.

And it’s flat, so flat. Flat and flat pack.

I know I’m abroad because of the trees. I spot the odd Palm tree and that flat, bright, open light that rarely filters through the canopies of London, leaving us scuttling beneath it in the gloom and shadow of Canary Wharf, the Westway, Council Estates.

Cars race and flags fly.

A supermarket called Food Town.

Centre spelt with an ‘er’.

Toll roads that aren’t the M6.

A yellow school bus! In real life! I almost point this out to the driver, or myself, but I don’t.

More pylons. More flags.

We pass a gun shop (store?) nestled between a subway and a sushi place. Could make for an interesting lunch break.

Phone numbers that spell something. That never really caught on at home, did it?

The freeway thins out and the patches of strip malls thicken, clump and multiply. Taco Bell. Jack in the Box. It’s like a drive-thru museum of childhood movie references that I never really got.

So much road! Where can it possibly all be leading to? Great, swooping swathes of smooth, sun-bleached Tarmac, looping and soaring, o’er storm drain and ‘neath freeway.

We peel our car off the freeway and we’re into a kind of suburban-industrial cocktail, garnished with more pylons and more flags.

A deserted film set, a cardboard cutout town. I half expect to walk through doors and see the sky; bright and flimsy flats from a stage that no one is on.



Empty space.


2 Responses to “Texas: on first glance”

  1. Sophs October 31, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    This was delicious to read 😊 like a satiating Sunday roast for the ears x

    • GemStGem February 18, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

      Aw thanks Sophs! Yum yum xx

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