One Eye Wide Open

By Anna Mitchael

We finally moved to town.

This migration of our selves, belongings and one-eyed dog from way out in the country to inside the city limits is something I have been threatening to do for a while.

Usually those threats were made after I drove half an hour home from the grocery store and found I forgot the milk. Or when the satellite internet that beamed from outer space then bounced off a barn roof to reach our house in a valley would — without warning — stop beaming, bouncing and reaching. But those are just details in a day. And for almost a decade my bad days in the country were met with my husband’s good ones. If he had a week of frustration, of course I would be on a streak of loving our distance from civilization.

Then came a night when we sat outside watching the late-evening commute — the sun switching places with the moon, the woodpeckers settling in while the owls came out, and the cows quieting down so we could hear the coyotes. In that switch I felt a shift too, and it brought the same sureness I had felt the first time I rambled down our caliche road and thought, “Well, this place is different, I think I would like to give it a try.” I looked at my husband and said, “I think it’s time to go.” Then it was either the sound of a wild hog screeching or hell freezing over because he looked at me and said, “I think so too.”

So we are here now in the hustle and bustle, just five minutes from a grocery store. We have reliable internet and neighbors who live so close we can wave at them from our yard. I love the convenience of it all, yet I don’t quite feel at home. I am starting to suspect that being completely at home in either the city or the country might be something I gave up with that first ramble down the caliche road. My address is here. My days will happen here. But home is when I am settled in my own skin, and now there is a part of me that simply can’t open up without the freedom of an empty highway stretching out in the distance, leading me to that very different life I do also love.

One of the biggest comforts I have found in the city is that I am not alone. It’s so common to read about the urbanization of Texas and how the cities are where everything “important” goes down. But the more people I meet, the more I find there are many of us who look past the headlines to what we know to be true because we feel it on the open highways, as well as in the close confines of a neighborhood: Life in Texas offers a combination of city and country you can’t get anywhere else, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Whether I am in the country or the city, people usually ask why our dog only has one eye. In the country no one is fazed to hear she lost half her sight to a rattlesnake, but in town that story does surprise people. One of my son’s friends asked me the other day why the dog’s good eye is always roaming around in every direction. I told him that she just wants to make sure she doesn’t miss the chance to hitch a ride back to the country for a day of being wild and free. Which, no matter how happy I am here, might always be exactly how I feel as well.