When a guy who has lived on the plains of West Texas for 65 years tells his buddies he’s moving to Louisiana, he gets some funny looks. He also gets a few well-meaning questions of the “why?” variety.
One guy in the coffee shop just shook his head in dismay; another actually put me on his church’s prayer list. Now, I’m not suggesting that my neighbors had anything against the Pelican State. They simply worried about anybody who would voluntarily leave the “Great State of Texas.”
For my wife, Olga, and me, the “why” was easy. We had a brand new granddaughter, and for some reason, the miles we were putting on the car were adding up fast. I mean, every month or so, we found ourselves making the 1,600 mile round trip from Lubbock to Zachary. The tires were getting thin. I’m not complaining…believe me, it was worth every mile. We just couldn’t stay away.
Then, after about the third trip, something funny happened. Every time we went home to Texas, we found ourselves missing South Louisiana. We kept saying things like “Man, a gumbo would hit the spot about now” or “You know that if we were in Zachary, we could be to the beach by lunch.”
Before you know it, we were selling the house and packing everything we owned into a truck. We were heading to the bayou.
But that’s enough about the how and why. The fun we’ve had since moving south could fill a book. And, if I ever write my Louisiana book, it will start with the chapter: “What Every Expat Texan Needs to Know.”
I would start by warning my fellow Louisiana newbies that they are going to need to learn a few new words. The first word I’d need to explain is lagniappe. There is no single word in a Texan’s vocabulary to refer to what the Food Network calls “that unexpected something extra.” The closest things are “freebies” or maybe a “baker’s dozen.” Still, lagniappe is much better because it can apply to much more than just food.
One evening, while enjoying a glass of wine on the patio with my son-in-law, I said something like, “Man, this is the life.” Without hesitating, he responded, “and see that sunset? It’s just lagniappe.” Like I said, it’s much more than food, and folks down here understand that.
Maybe someday, I’ll write that book. But before I do maybe we’ll have the chance to visit in person…and you can tell me how to make the world’s best roux. But remember, you’ll have to be patient with this expat Texan. I’m just now figuring out what exactly a roux is.