I have wandered the mad streets of NYC, the crooked cow paths of Boston, sprawled down the gravity defying hills of San Francisco, and chased friends down countless carefully cultivated suburbs… but, this tiny little town in the middle of East Texas Nowhere, it had the most beautiful back alley i’ve ever come across.
I wandered into this town after my jaunt in Farmersville , parking the car in the slightly shady lot of a discount dollar store that had mustachioed guys hanging out of huge trucks with badly drawn tattoos lining their slightly greased up arms. The dust swirled in the warm air from passing trucks and I wondered if maybe this would be a bust, if perhaps I shouldn’t get back in the car and keep going elsewhere. I also wondered, after wandering down this back alley with glittering broken glass scattered here and there in the brilliantly green grass, if maybe this would also be the town I finally got a shotgun to the face for mistakenly trespassing onto private property. (This is more common than you would think…..the mistaken jaunt onto private property I mean, not the shotgun. Although, shotguns ARE very common here of course)
Thankfully, I found only hidden gems of light and lushness, and not a one shotgun to be seen. I know it would be easy to see this place as something ugly, to turn the lens a different way, to use a different filter and write at length about the decay of these small almost-no-name towns and the problems that plague them at length but…it can be JUST as easy, if you have the mind for it, to turn your eyes into multi-layered viewers and appreciate the life thriving here. I don’t seek to romanticize small town life, but I also don’t find joy in tearing it down. I just want to be able to see the beauty that surrounds me, anywhere I find myself.
I want to show you at your very best, I want to show you off and off and off.
Be the belle of the ball, suitors lined ten deep and drowning in your beauty.
Age has not been so kind to you.
( Though kinder than most )
Pilot Point was unexpected. We got in the car after a heavy breakfast and a stop at a gas station for roadtrip snacks (ranch cornuts and Arizona iced tea for me, taquitos for him). Ray Roberts Lake was the goal, if you can have a “goal” when your only direction is d-r-i-v-e, baby, drive us out of here. We drove through the exploding boom of Little Elm, past the random tropical madness that is Savannah, past fields and more fields, crops of gold and seas of green. Cows meander here, calm and lazy. Horses roam free, donkeys mingle with all crowds, and every so often you’ll come across an alpaca farm with their curious eyes watching you speed on past down the highway. After a half hour of this repetition, music was blasting through the speakers, my phone in my hand shooting off texts to friends, photos to social medias, I wasn’t even paying attention to the changing landscape outside…
Oh americana, let me hold you close as we fall on by
break my heart with your past
and dust off these traditions you call so sacred
with the blood on their hands
( the blood on our hands )
And then hush.
The highway turned into a road, the road into bumpy dirt, then back to rumpled blacktop and the playlist on the radio went to a pause just as we came out into a flag lined square. My skin sizzled under the heat of the sun and I was almost afraid of disturbing the silence that seeped into every little crevice of this town, the utter desolation of this perfect little slice of America. But there was so much to see, so much to explore, it would have been against manifest destiny itself to stay in the car and not see what I could see.
You can find beauty anywhere
and here, in the land of god
in the land of men and beasts of burden
we all love to drag our feet in the dust
( drag me right through the middle of town, right down)
Sometimes I don’t feel like I belong here, in Texas. But wandering around the hot streets of Pilot Point that day, the clouds hanging above the buildings like cotton candy day dreams, camera clutched in my sweating hands, I think I found yet another thing to love and remember.