90 Days in Irving Tx
"In Texas we Trust...Comamos!"
On August 7, 2018, after 10 hours on the road and just 2 more hours to drive…we crossed the Texas border. The way I felt in that moment is somewhat indescribable but if forced to describe how I felt after 4 months of planning (Skype interviews, week-long trip to tour apartments, touring high schools, exploring Irving and attempting setting up employment), I would say it was surreal. Let’s be clear, I have only lived in Illinois and Missouri my entire life…. (coming up on 34 years) Nothing prepared us for how hot it was that day. It literally got hotter than a hoochie coochie. I appreciate that there’s minimum humidity. No for real, St. Louis is nasty humid, but I could definitely tell we were closer to the sun.
Micah has the best sense of direction, and within a week the kid had figured out the entire area of Las Colinas (neighborhood we stayed at an Extended Stay for the first 30 days). Las Colinas is upscale, my people back home can picture Ladue as a comparison minus all of the white people, no really. It is mostly Middle Eastern and Hispanic. One of my favorite memories there is when we pulled up to our room one night, there was a white man that looked like he walked off the scene of Family Guy and a man from the Middle East outside just “shooting the shit” having beers. Micah and I just looked in amazement. This is our first time truly experiencing diversity. There was one time we went to Target in the Valley Ranch neighborhood near Micah's school and by just standing in the electronics we heard Arabic language, Spanish, African and Asian. IS this really MY LIFE? We even had a game the first few weeks we moved here whereby we'd go to the Walmart and see how many white people we'd find. It was nicknamed "Where da white people at?" Then we proceeded to count like Count Dracula. A one...A two..A threee..THREE White people in the Irving Walmart MUAHAHAHA. Again we come from a town that is about 90% white. Bear with our culture shock. This is also the same Wal-Mart that more Southern Hospitality shined through. One rainy day, a gentleman offered his umbrella while I found my car so I would not get wet. Someone not trying to flirt at all. Love it!
This is also my first time experiencing having to put ALL of my driving skills to use. Driving every day here is like a video game. Good thing Micah is really good at video games because he gets his license next year. All of that "southern hospitality" goes RIGHT OUT THE DOOR when it comes to traffic. You need good hand and eye coordination or get your ass off the road. Just that simple. I will say the highway system here is great. There's tons of them and I am just now figuring out that they have names. But let me also say this...EXPRESS LANES ARE LIFFFEEE! If you need to get somewhere fast there are several alternate routes and express lanes.
I do not think I would have moved here without my support system we already have down here. They are really more like family than friends. It is a reminder that it takes a village. Glad we have our village!
The past 90 days have been filled with ups and downs, some that I do not care to share with a general “audience”. Luckily, our time here has been mostly “ups”. For the first week we felt as if we were on vacation. Considering we have friends that are like family here whom of which we saw shortly after arriving, we were just impressed and on Cloud Nine about every single thing Irving had to offer.
It wasn’t until Micah started school on week 3 that I felt reality kick us in the rear end. Back to school always brings anxiety for a parent let alone a single parent that just relocated. I was still trying to put the puzzle pieces together in regards to how Texas’ education system differs from Illinois and whether or not the school I hand-picked for him to go to would prove to be successful. After about 2 full weeks of school, I knew I had made a good decision. Micah fit in perfect. He made friends right away. A few looked, I’ll just say it…thuggish. And some are truly. Not Edwardsville "I just learned a new gang handshake thuggish" but the real" I am from the city and have had it rough and leaving gang life thuggish". Sure enough a favorite pastime at his school is shooting dice in the morning. His high school in particular is small, and also pretty diverse; 50 black then the rest is 20% Latino and a small percentage of Whites and Asian/Middle Eastern. Despite these children being “hood” they are doing their best and have to try harder than the kids that have a silver spoon in their mouth. Those kids are from the Hood Hood, but they have character. They stick together. This area provides them with rec centers and plenty of things to do to minimize getting in trouble. I have the upmost respect for young black children trying their hardest. Also, the teachers let them be themselves. I was concerned about his crowd but Micah is level headed most of the time and knows how to have fun with them but keep them at arm’s length at the same time. Micah and his teachers get along very well and he is doing better than he ever has in his educational journey so far. He soared on the State testing; off the charts for Reading and Math…above average for the rest. This brought his teachers to the idea that he would need to consider the Gifted program so he won’t get bored. What a far cry from Edwardsville School District telling me he was ADHD. Glad to leave that in our past. It’s amazing what a change in environment can do.
Finding a permanent place to live proved to be frustrating at first. Finally after 3 weeks, I found a duplex in South Irving. The street we live on is quiet, I even pulled a “I’m from Glen Carbon, IL ” and left my debit card in the car with the door unlocked. Careless I know. Habits are hard to break. Had I been a few streets over it would have been stolen. Hearing gunshots mostly from the South of us is a bedtime routine now. “MOMMM THEY SHOOTING” and he looks so excited! I think he just is impressed with the excitement of the city. Irving is citylike but suburban at the same time and nearly 7 times the size of where we grew up. We could walk to Dallas from our place but I could not picture actually living in the big city of Dallas. Nice having it close by! We are finally learning the area pretty well and I am finding myself using the GPS less and less. At first it was completely frustrating saying "WAIT! I have to GPS to the nearest grocery store." Don't get me wrong we still GPS places, but we have the basics down.
Micah and I have nicknamed South Irving Lil Mexico. Like. Seriously. We welcome it! We are excited and impressed with Latino culture and trying to learn more Spanish. But I NEED THEM TO SPEAK JUST A LITTLE ENGLISH POR FAVOR!!! But, then I remember Texas used to be Mexico and Latinos are now the majority in Texas, or very close to it. So needless to say, we are working on our Spanish. I can always see the look in a Latino person's eyes on whether I am using the correct Spanish words or not. I have to admit, I slip into speaking French sometimes. My bad! I will say, having a few neighbors that don't speak much English helps! We sort of help each other speak each other’s language. Has to be one of the most beautiful experiences I have had to date. Everyone speaks a little Spanish here regardless of race or lifestyle. I have met some of the most conservative deer hunting men that still know how to pronounce and speak Spanish well and they wonder why the hell you aren't pronouncing it correctly. Imagine a country white male with cowboy hats and boots on speaking Spanish. That's TEXAS! Love it!
If you are a foodie moving to somewhere where you can get any kind of food you want for better quality, more quantity, and an affordable price (remember everything is bigger in Texas) is golden. Not only do we have the best Mexican food in the country, but the BBQ and burgers do not disappoint and they’re a dime a dozen. Our neighbors prove to have the cliché southern hospitality spoiling you with greens, oxtails, neckbones and cornbread on a regular. That’s just the black folks! The Latino neighbors invite us over for their grilled meat (and real corn tortillas) and Mexican beer every weekend. Like. Clockwork.
We have already had 2 sets of visitors and in two weeks we are expecting one of my mother's sisters for Thanksgiving. Having visitors is the key to curing homesickness. It's almost like taking a vitamin C pill. You aren't "sick" yet, but you are trying to prevent it. It's nice showing my loved ones how much you love your new environment and let them in on a snippet of it. I only have had a few moments of homesickness partially due to seeing Dallas' bridges with arches going over them. My feelings are more like "WAHHH the archhh... Oh Looook Whataburger!!" I am seriously feigning for some White Castle's, Imo's pizza and Hood Chinese food. But with all the food here, I will be fine for now.
I have been terrible at keeping in touch with most people. Even close family members. We are so into our lives here that we just are in the moment many times. It's definitely a good thing for us, but some of my family and friends are like HELLOOOO?!! I use Facebook mostly to post updates and interact when I can and even now I am cutting back on reading others' updates. It may let up once we've been here for awhile...maybe not, but it's what is necessary for me at the moment.
The weather here is a big topic of conversation. Especially rain. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They act like they've never seen rain. They are afraid to walk in it and drive in it. And they get cold easily. Micah and I belly laughed when our neighbor came out with a coat on when we first stopped having 95 degree weather everyday. "IT's COLD OUTCHEA" Umm...you do know that it is 73 degrees outside right? Just saying...that's warm to us. Then...it dropped to 60 everyone went crazy. 1 day at night it was 45...more craziness. ONE DAY of weather that is still above freezing. ONE DAY of weather that STILL won't kill these pesky bugs and mosquitoes down here. I will say, I am looking forward to a damn near non existent winter. Bring it on!!!
Texas loves their football. Very early on we went to football games for Micah's high school. He dumped me to go hang with the "homies" and then asked was it weird to sit alone. I told him no and truth be told, it's peaceful! Plus I love meeting new people. I was not shocked by the whole " Friday Night Lights" feel to the football stadium. Also the games last longer. One night on a school night I was heading out at 10:45pm to get Micah and they were still in the 3rd quarter. Come on Texans! Can we get some sleep so we can combat your crazy driving in the morning Por favor?
Our first 90 days have proved to be better than we imagined. We are looking forward to what's to come in our new home....Hasta Luego!