Place Where You Live:

Waxahachie, Texas

When my family moved to Waxahachie, I asked what a Waxahachie was. Dad said it was the ancient burial ground of Native American supergiants. Mom said it was another suburban city south of Dallas: population 30,000, no movie theater, not much city life. I preferred Dad’s explanation because I was eleven and because a ten-foot-tall arrow was imbedded in the ground by the high school, whose mascot was the Indian.

During spring, Waxahachie was the Crepe Myrtle Capital of Texas. The myrtles would bloom pink, white, red, and purple. My birthday was the first day of spring, and I pretended our first year in town those crepe myrtles bloomed especially for me.

During summer, Waxahachie was home to Scarborough Renaissance Festival. The owner’s daughter and I dressed up as whatever we wanted: gypsies, maidens, fairies. Every adult who’d never quite grown up worked there and played along. We spent summer nights on the fairgrounds in a storybook cottage. It was our world of fantasy.

Until fall, when it became our nightmares as Scream, the Halloween theme park. Princes became ghouls. Fairies traded wands for pitchforks. Crepe myrtles were windblown bare to skeletons. My parents never let me visit Scream because they thought it too scary. I never challenged them because I did, too.

In the winter, Waxahachie was the Gingerbread City. Mom and I spent snow days walking the oldest neighborhoods in town. With every wraparound porch and bay window lined with Christmas lights, Waxahachie was like the quaint towns inside the snow globes Dad and I collected. The heart of our snow globe was the courthouse. The prettiest in the state, Dad said. It looked like a castle. Dad was a lawyer, and couldn’t a lawyer be to a courthouse what a king was to his castle? I was a princess there.

After I left for college, Waxahachie got its first movie theater. The population grew from an influx of Dallas employees looking for elbow room. I prefer my memories of Waxahachie, when there wasn’t much “city” to the town, but there was always plenty to believe in.