Back in May, my friend Joe blogged about missing his hometown: Tahoka, Texas, population Not Many. He's been terribly homesick, and mentioned that anybody finding themselves in West Texas should stop in and visit his folks. "They'd love to have you over," he wrote.
Well. Turns out, we were planning a trip to Colorado, which most definitely would take us through West Texas. So I challenged Joe on his offer. "I hope you mean it," I commented, "'cause we're heading toward Tahoka next month!" Within days, he put his Mom and me in touch with each other and it was official. My family and I were on our way to Tahoka, Texas.
Glo had instructed us to turn on Ave O once we got to town. When we got there, I snarked, "Maybe she meant zero. I don't think there are enough streets in this town to GO all the way to O." Darren quipped, "Maybe the streets are T, A, H, O, and K." We laughed. We had fun cutting down the little town in the 48 seconds it took to drive through it.
"This is one of those towns I'd pass through and think, 'Wow. People live here? Glad I'm not one of them,'" I snorted.
Then we pulled up to Joe and Glo's house. (My friend Joe is named after his Dad. To minimize confusion, from here on out in this story, I'll call my friend what his parents call him - Joe Clyde - even though I know he'd probably thump me in the head if he were here in the same room with me.) Glo received us warmly, saying over and over, "I'm SO glad you're here." Inside, she led us straight back to the patio, where iced tea and root beer awaited us. The local preacher sat with Joe, and stood to shake our hands. Joe tried to shake my hand, too, but I refused. "Uh uh," I protested. "I want a hug." I think he was taken aback just a bit, but he hugged me anyway. Joe is the smilin'est man I've had the pleasure of spending time with in a long time. He's just happy.
And Glo. Well. Glo needs a category all to herself. She joined the kids in the pool, claiming that she couldn't bear to see little kids splashing around and not splashing with them. At first, I sat on the edge, with my feet in the water. She scolded me, and said, "The rules at this pool are, if you're gonna sit close, you better not whine about getting wet." I got wet. I did not whine. In fact, I was soon in the water with them, even though I'd forgotten my suit. Glo just invites that kind of fun. I imagine it would've been a delight growing up with her for a Mom. It made me happy for Joe Clyde.
The Hays's backyard is truly an oasis. It's lush and green, with flowering plants hanging from the eaves and the trees and lining the pool and the waterfall. The whole yard is set apart from the rest of West Texas by a stone wall. I kept forgetting we were in the middle of flat, dry farmland. I was a world away in tiny Tahoka, Texas.
By the time we left the next morning, I understood why Joe Clyde's so homesick. It's not the spot on the map he misses. (Well, maybe it is.) It's the people. It's the Oasis that is his childhood home. The friendliness, the familiarity. After swimming and dinner, Joe and Glo drove out with us to the city limit sign so we could take this photo (which will be part of Ira's Scrapbook Project).
On the way back to the house, we followed behind their truck, and wondered where they were going when we passed Avenue O without turning. I wondered (with a little silent laugh) if they were planning to show us the local sites. Sure enough, Joe pulled his truck over, pointed over the top of it with his left hand, and then pulled back onto the street. I yelped with glee when I saw it:
I envy my friend Joe. I don't have a hometown to get homesick for. I totally understand why he misses his. In fact, now, after spending only 15 hours there, I miss it for him.