A place to call home: Becoming a 'Burger

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Sometime around February 2013, a nasty snowstorm swept through Michigan. I was working at a weekly newspaper between Flint and Saginaw, and my editor assigned me to go to the Interstate-75 overpass in Clio, Michigan, and take pictures of cars and trucks driving and skidding on the white, icy roads. It was about 10 degrees outside, and it would be late April before we’d see temperatures above the freezing point.

As I took pictures of the north- and south-bound cars and marveled how many Michigan drivers could still drive 70 mph in snowstorms and not skip a beat, I stared into the southern white horizon beyond the interstate.

What did I want? To disappear into it and return home. As enchanting as the upper Midwest could be, I yearned to return to the Southwest.

I realized then that unlike towns I’d lived in while growing up (Colby, Kansas, Alvin and then Beeville), Michigan would never feel like home for me. It would be, at best, a place to vacation. I grew up a lot in Michigan, but the state also contained painful memories I preferred to bury and, with a little luck, forget where they were interred.

It’s been almost four years since I packed up a U-Haul truck and moved myself and my two youngest sons about 1,600 miles from Vassar, Michigan to Fredericksburg, and for me, even after a year of living here, Fredericksburg felt like home.

And now, to me it is home.

Maybe it’s because I’m an adopted Texan and am just happy to be home. Or maybe I just lucked out and landed in the Hill Country.

Perhaps it’s because of Fredericksburg’s history. Perhaps it’s a microcosm of the warm, friendliness of Texas. Perhaps it’s being only an hour away from one of my favorite cities (San Antonio, where I lived from 1998-2004). Perhaps Fredericksburg is neither too small nor too large.

Maybe it’s the music. I like to listen to classic country on the radio. My father, age 80 and in declining health, loved classic country. Listening to that music reminds me a lot of him.

As I drive around town, I see the rich culture. The old businesses. The old buildings and the stories behind them. Fort Martin Scott. Sometimes, when I look at the fort, I think of how it perhaps could’ve been as big as Fort Sam Houston is now. I often wonder if the Mormon settlement of Zodiac would’ve survived had fate moved in a different direction.

 

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