I lived in Houston long enough to know that Texans are some of the most compassionate people anywhere. Sure, they have backward politics (to me), but they wear their passion for “being Texan” on their sleeves.

We moved to Houston when I started 10th grade, after a year in Louisiana (moving there right after I started 9th grade in Florida). I learned right away that Texans will take you in as one of their own if you’re willing to let your guard down and accept their eclectic ways.

Even though Houston was at the beginning of the boom that would see it become the 4th largest city in America when we moved there in 1980, it never felt like a big city. Mostly it felt like a big town of regular Southerners—with a twist. The twist was that they are residents of the biggest state in America (don’t get them going on Alaska) and are damn proud of it. Texas this. Texas that. Everything big. I reckon a Yankee might find it obnoxious, but having been born and raised below Interstate 10 my whole life, it just felt like another part of the south to me. Another part of the south with delicious barbecue and Mexican food.

I only lived in Houston for a couple years before joining the US Air Force, and never really looked back. Most all of my family still lives there there, but also in Louisiana and Florida (we have The Gulf surrounded). I had the chance to go back to Houston and set my roots after the USAF, but something called me in a different direction. I was a Southern man who felt most at ease anywhere on the east coast of the US. After leaving Houston I traveled to the nether regions of the northeast and back down to Florida again before finally settling in North Carolina with my wife—where we’ve been for 18 years. We’re quite happy here (despite our own backward politics), and I’ve only been back to Houston once since 1990. That said, we sent our daughters there last summer to visit family and they too felt right at home amidst Texans.

But enough about me. This post is about Texans. During Hurricane Harvey when we all watched people rush into the rising waters to save other people and pets, it didn’t surprise me. I think deep down we all have it in us to help our fellow man, but in Texas it’s more than just an instinct. It’s part of their culture. I found that out in the short time I called Houston home. Whenever someone needed something at my high school, people would get in line to help. I remember once there was this kid who lost his parents in a car crash. The whole school was in shock and that kid had a hundred families lined up to help him. And not just lip service and prayers either, but actual families offering to take him in. There were other instances too that made me proud to be associated with these strange Southerners in cowboy boots and pickup trucks. This week has been a reminder that I’m still proud.

If you think Texans care about football, you only know the half of it. Texans care. Period. And caring is the Texas way.

My family is scattered all across Houston. They basically have downtown surrounded. And remarkably, not a single one of them was displaced from this storm. Sure, their mobility has been limited, but even as the water was rising everywhere, my 80-year-old mother texted me to say she wished she could go out and help the people who needed it.

Houston will survive. And it will be stronger as a result of this storm.

Because that’s the Texas way.



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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.