A River In My Blood

© Hannah Sears

© Hannah Sears

It’s not like anywhere else on earth. But I guess everyone says that about home. It’s not exactly a slice of heaven, and sometimes—ten months outta the year that is—it’s ten times hotter’n hell. But, when you smile at someone, chances are they’ll smile back. There may not be a barstool waiting for you in a place where everybody knows your name, but they’ll all act like they’ve known you forever soon’s you walk in. If you drive for half’n hour, you’ll see a cow or twenty. But a burger from a radioactive orange and white steepled drive through is better’n any filet mignon.

There’s something about the heat there, too—it’s a season more intense than what it’s called. It’s more than “summer.” It’s baking concrete and the salty tang of sweat. It’s ice-cold beer sweating on a picnic table and the kiss of iced tea on sun-pinked lips. It’s stinging fingertips and burning tongue from peelin’ crawfish all afternoon, freeing the ivory butter-soaked and spice-filled meat from flag-red shells and sucking the heads for that punch of cayenne, for the hell of it. It’s crispy golden french fries and buttermilk ranch that never saw the inside of a squeeze bottle and is thick enough to eat with a spoon.

It’s raindrops big as everythin’ else here—quarter sized drops that run down bare shoulders and sizzle on the blazing ground.  It’s the windows down with the wind blowing in and the seats sticking to your legs and no speed limit sign in sight. It’s sunsets with colors they haven’t invented names for yet; names no one would understand if they hadn’t seen it. It’s that bruised purple-blue of a blue-bonnet, the searing line of red-orange like a welder’s torch. It’s roads you could drive with your eyes closed because there’s somethin’ inside that would pull you right back home. It’s the siren-call of a steel guitar and the deafening thrum of cicadas. It’s heat-lightning storms with that dance in a blue-black sky.

It’s knowing you could drive for hours and still be inside the lines.

It’s knowing just how long it takes to leave. And that you never really do. 

A Snapshot of College Station in August

The air is hot and somewhat heavy, but not oppressive. The way the sun beats down is more comforting than anything else. It makes you want to close your eyes and lay spread-eagle in the few patches of green grass that remain. There always seems to be a breeze, brushing along the skin like a lover’s fingertips. The concrete holds in the warmth, clinging unnecessarily to the hundred-degree heat of summer that always seems to hang on well into September. There’s always an air of activity, even in the sweaty heat; students hurry to class yet somehow find time to stop and chat with friends.

The dome of the Academic Building casts relieving shadows over students and the ever-present hoards of visiting high schoolers and their parents. The girls are always overdressed, already eyeing the college boys with undisguised anticipation. The boys try to look indifferent and uninterested, proudly displaying their high school letter and logos on t-shirts, caps, and shorts.  The parents always seem to be awed, whether by the campus or the fact that their babies will soon the set loose upon this university and this town and pushed into what their children will think is the “real world.”

The breeze tickles the leaves of the trees, tantalizing and tempting students with the constant desire to skip class. The weekend always lingers on the horizon, arrives with fanfare, and passes far too quickly.