It came as a sudden, shocking realization to me at about the age of 27ish that my family and I are rednecks. We are educated country-folk, but we remain country-folk all the same. Meghan and I grew up in a tiny town in southeast Texas with a population of about 1000 – but no one knows for sure, since there’s no population sign. There’s currently 1 stoplight and 2 gas stations that make up the entire metropolis of Van Vleck, Texas, so there’s a reason we are the way that we are!
I knew while listening to Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Know You’re a Redneck” jokes growing up that we were part of the target audience. Yes, we had the set of salad bowls that were actually old Cool Whip containers. Yes, I have seen the working TV sitting on top of the non-working TV. But it didn’t register until I was in my pediatric residency training and had gone home for Thanksgiving, when my sister was 27 weeks pregnant, wearing a beer t-shirt, and we were out at the shooting range to celebrate the holiday, that I had my A-HA moment!
Of course, there should have been other signs that tipped me off. We grew up *technically* in a neighborhood, but right on the border of a large area of private land with lots of cows. We learned from a young age the protocol for who is required to open and close gates when driving onto private property (duty of the person riding shotgun, always), how to get through a barbed wire fence without making contact (it’s a 2-person job), and how to shoot BB guns by using shaken-up cans of Coke in our backyard for target practice (makes for some interesting, sugary pyrotechnics!).
Meghan and I were roommates during my first 2 years of medical school and her sophomore-junior years of undergrad, and during that time we were homeowners. Of a trailer. I’m the only trailer park doctor that I know of in practice! I feel like that’s a special attribute that should be listed on my CV in some way.
It was a little surprising to me in college when I told a friend about this upbringing. She told me she would have NEVER guessed that I was a country kid, because I didn’t seem like it! She didn’t see me growing up, running barefoot in the gravel streets, climbing trees, trespassing – innocently – to explore the old cemetery hidden in a grove of trees near our house. I think she associated “country” with “ignorant”, which is very sad to me. Rural living is definitely something I aspire to experiencing again one day.
We weren’t the kind of country kids who had never left our home town, and were lucky to have parents devoted to making sure we had 1 out-of-state trip each year – but this usually entailed camping, so our worldliness was often tempered by experiencing the country aspects of other states!
I’m very proud of my upbringing and experiences, and wouldn’t trade them for anything. Meghan and her kiddos came to visit me in the New Orleans area recently, and packing a family of 5 up and getting out of my 3rd floor apartment any time we were going somewhere was an incredible ordeal. I haven’t lived in our small Texas town in 18 years, but I still can’t truly grasp the mechanics how childhood works in a city! I’m so thankful for the small town, the gravel roads, the barbed wire fences, and the lack of shoes that I grew up with, and I know Meghan feels the same way.
Even though I’ve lived in cities since going to college (though my friends who moved to College Station from Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio might beg to differ with my definition of a “city”), I have found that I have to regularly make an escape to open space on a regular basis to maintain my sanity. The convenience and excitement and entertainment factor of living in a larger community definitely has its perks, but my soul will always have a longing for open spaces and country roads.
FYI–My Miller Lite maternity shirt was awesome because I got it for free at a bar in college, and they only had shirts that were about 4 sizes too big for me at the time, which means it was perfect for my pregnancies. Whatever.
But yes, it’s so true that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. While I do enjoy visiting cities and seeing how THOSE PEOPLE live, I am way too country at heart to ever think I could survive living like that. I’ve lived in bigger towns for a while now, and I can’t wait until we can buy some land to live on, and our boys can pee/run around naked outside without having issues with neighbors.
I feel like Sarah is a little more refined than I am, probably due to her being a physician and traveling the world and stuff, but when she’s out of the city and at our deer lease in the Texas Hill Country, her country instincts definitely take over, and she’s a hiking, rock-throwing, lawn chair-sitting, beer-drinking, campfire-watching girl like me.