I am sitting here, in my apartment, which is neither expensive nor not, in a suburb of Austin, Texas. I can hear traffic roaring by on the tollway outside, muted by the double-paned windows that the builders thoughtfully put in, when they realized that the noise would be otherwise intolerable. Traffic is slowly picking up from where it was a month ago, as Texas is slowly letting up on the “lockdown” orders that have been plaguing us (pardon the pun) for the past couple of months.
Maybe everything will be okay. Maybe not.
Every car or truck I hear is one person or group of people going somewhere. Maybe they are going somewhere important, maybe not, but every time I hear the roar of a truck, or the whoosh of a car, someone has somewhere to be. Sometimes I will hear the roar of a jet landing at Austin-Bergstrom, or cruising overhead at tens of thousands of feet towards places unknown.
Thousands of miles away sits a small island nation, off the coast of a continent full of history and tradition, as well as conflict and strife. In that country, there is a large city of twenty-eight million people.
Perhaps someone is sitting in a small apartment, in that city, listening to cars roar by on a tollway, and trains roaring by on tracks, looking out into the distance at green mountains that I cannot see, and thinking perhaps the same thing. Perhaps they are thinking of a land thousands of miles away, where people wear boots and cowboy hats and eat tex-mex and BBQ, and thinking that if only they were there, they would finally find a happiness they have never found in their city or country.
Perhaps they may even decide to attempt to move here, and eventually, they will land in Dallas or Houston. Then maybe they will make their way to Austin, and see people in cowboy boots and hats. Perhaps they will eat BBQ and tex-mex, and even start to say ‘y’all’ like the native folks do.
Then, perhaps, they will sit in their apartment that is neither too expensive or not, and fight back the tears, knowing that no matter where they go, there’s always a tollway or train outside. And there’s always cars and trucks going to and fro, and people on them doing their thing, and that in the end, nothing at all changed.
Eventually, when learning about or experiencing another culture, it becomes familiar. And at that point, you realize that even though the language might be different, the food might be different, the expxectations might be different… at the end of the day, it’s all the same.
It’s always the same. It’s just the slightly different details that mask the sameness. And once you get past the details.. it’s always the same.