There was an American flag on almost every street corner. Trucks rattled by towards the fields that seem to engulf this sparse town of less than 2,000 and the smell of diesel and cheap beer floated on the warm breeze while the hot sun beat down down down onto cracked sidewalks and empty streets. The taste of USA felt so strong here, from the way the dogs barked from behind chain link backyard fences to the parked police car next to the pizza place, the lone passenger in the drivers seat reclined for a nap in the afternoon heat.
Save Us All , the graffitti proclaimed up above the furniture store and I wondered who had ventured up to the structure to spray those words for all to see. Save you from what, I idly wondered, god being around the corner on every street here in these small towns. . Graffiti is possibly endemic here, with so many wide open walls just waiting to be sprayed with messages for gods both here or not, and underneath their fresh layers of white, I could see remnants of previous messages just waiting to be recovered on many walls.
Residing in Hunt county, with an estimated 459 housholds as of the 2000 census, you can’t help but wonder at the life here. There is beauty, the colors red-white-blue popping out from everywhere, and the little houses that sprawl out from the town center are filled with thriving gardens that clearly showcase a special kind of quiet resilience that isn’t easily found in modern suburbia. Between Greenville and Royce City, it’s bypassed by the highway that connects both and as such, it’s easily missed unless you aim for it by placing your life in the hands of any of the small farm roads that connect it to main civilization. Or, I guess if you wanted to, you could fly in, as they somehow have their own municipal airport. Don’t say these places can’t surprise you.
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.