Moving to Waco: In Short
By Leilani Mueller
Three nights ago Felicity, my one-year-old daughter, tried running. She was wearing her long maxi-dress, with the ruffles around the top and the bottom. She tried with all her little might to run after her two-year-old friend who had a ball. Into the long grass, she went. The thick grass was taller than her knees. She stumbled on the grass and her skirt, but stood up again, and again. She tried so hard.
Three weeks ago she took her first step in California. Three weeks ago I was living in California. Not anymore.
People ask, “How do you like Waco? What do you think of moving?”
Putting into words the experience of moving is difficult. On the one hand, there is something so ordinary about it. Yesterday, I sang to my baby and put her to bed. This morning, I went for my mile run. I dropped Nathan off at school, carpooling, the same as we’ve always done. Yet, it is different. Here, Felicity has a room of her own. The brick buildings of the classically, beautiful Baylor campus put Makita Tool company’s white, rectangular office to aesthetic shame. And the air is thick here. It sticks to you when you run. You notice it. Three weeks is not enough time to really know what I think.
As I reflect, I wonder about the story I choose to tell about this place. I find myself wondering, can I determine my experience of Waco? (Clearly, I’m motivated by the fact that my husband is a philosopher) Over the past six months, when I told people I was moving to Waco a range of responses came my way.
“It’s the armpit of Texas.”
“Growing up here is the best.”
“I hate it.”
“I love it.”
And the one agreed upon thought: “It’s hot in the summer.”
One place manages to elicit a range of contrary emotions. Perhaps the place is just a backdrop. It is me who gets to decide who I will be in this place. And I can love it as much as the familiar streets of Harbor City, the eclectic eateries in Los Angeles, the winding pavement of Oxford. But to love it, is also to admit that it is not those other places. And it is OK to miss them. But it is also OK to love this place, which isn’t to be disloyal to the other places I belong.
My experience of Waco is a walking one. I try to run in this thick new grass, but I will stumble sometimes.
Leilani Mueller is a wife, mother, teacher, and writer. Formerly, a California native she now calls Waco home. She loves YA novels, Shakespeare, Victorian literature, Baylor philosophy, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.