Almost Born Here

The Texas Story Project.

Y'all might remember my mom as she walked carefully across the dusty caliche at Bracketville, where the Alamo of movie fame stood in 1961.

My mom was very pregnant with me at the time and I could have been born in Texas had we stayed on a bit longer. Well, maybe you had to be there to remember her. Mom was very pretty and full of giggles and smiles back then. And my sister had fun falling off a horse, holding her arm in a sling while my dear brother was deeply infatuated with anything to do with the famous John Wayne movie that he was completely drawn to the movie set and the beauty of Texas. He still lives here and my sister lives in France, one of the six flags that have flown over this state.

My father received a promotion with his company and we ended up moving to France not long after I was born; and my first caretaker—besides my dear mother—was a sweet woman from Madrid, Spain, named Carnita, another one of the flags which have flown over Texas. My first words were indeed in Spanish, followed by English, and much later, fluency in French.

In 2012, my boss granted me a two-month's leave of absence from my massage therapy work and I went on my first camino to Santiago de Compostela across central France and into northern Spain from Austin, Texas, where my wife and son and I have resided since 2009. I got to practice the Spanish that I've learned since the Carnita days from my high school Spanish teacher to being self-taught, and from conversations with my in-laws who are Tejano.

I am deeply interested in the conjunto, ranchera, and mariachi styles of music and associated cumbia and waltz dancing. That is why when a local singer-songwriter named Suzanna Choffel played an encore and sang it all in wonderful Spanish I was inspired to ask who had written the song. Suzanna told me that Selena Quintanilla and her family had made it famous. I was soon going to the Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue in Austin to watch the annual "Selena" movie, followed by my first pilgrimage to her museum and her family studios in Corpus Christi. My visit that day was completed with a reverent and solemn viewing of her gravesite where I paid my respects not only to Selena, but to all the good things that she envisioned for the people of Texas and the world. So, here I am today with that in mind, wanting to share my story for anyone believing how much good there is in our multiethnic state and its future, as I strive to live "como la Flor."

Douglas J Spaeth is an Austin resident with his wife and son since 2009, practicing licensed massage therapy with locally owned massage establishments, following the local music scene, and swimming and hiking.

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