It’s funny. When I would tell people I was moving to Texas, the conversation always fell into the same pattern: after the initial why’s and when’s, we’d inevitably start in on the stereotypes.

Had I bought my hat and boots yet? How would I survive all those Republicans? Would I get an accent?

Now I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, and, though I have yet to encounter any gun-toting, hat-wearing, fervently patriotic Romney-voters strolling down the street, I have encountered my fair share of Texas clichés.

There are the occasional “honey”s and “y’all”s (our realtor, for one, was an apparent devotee to “Southern Hospitality”); I’ve seen a few pairs of boots clicking their way through the halls at school; and I expect the Republicans will come out in force now that Mitt’s officially nominated.

The masses have, however, proved dead wrong on one point: forget the heat and humidity—Texas is cold.

This week there was an average high of 90 degrees and the humidity hasn’t dipped below 70 percent, but, short of reading an actual weather report, you’d never have guessed it.

You see, the old adage “everything’s bigger in Texas” is proving to be all too relevant, especially when it comes to AC.

In Houston they don’t cool; they refrigerate.

Step into almost any building and you’re greeted by the icy waft and gentle hum of the busy machines as they work exhaustively, over-compensating for the rising heat outside.

At my new school the unofficial uniform seems to be some combination of pants, long-sleeves and sweaters. And it’s September.

You feel a little ridiculous sweating through the early morning heat of the parking lot, but such preparations are necessary to survive the icy breeze inside.

It was incredibly disorienting exploring the quaint Woodlands Market Street right after moving down here. I’d duck into stores to escape the mid-July swelter, only to find myself looking for a sweatshirt.

Oftentimes the only things warm about a place are the people. Most everyone (yes, even the ladies at the DMV) has been more than hospitable.

For instance, one neighbor, an outgoing lady with a bubbly personality and bashful beagle, gives our yellow lab treats whenever she passes our front gate.

She also brought over a heaping plateful of chocolate-chip cookies to welcome us to our suburb, The Woodlands,  but only when she knew the whole family would be home to enjoy them together. (Hectic summer schedules kept at least one of us absent most of the summer.)

And thus you have the great paradox of Texas life: they welcome you in while freezing you out.

(Junior Margaret Whitney will contribute regular columns from her new home in Houston.)


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