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How Texas Barbecue Changed My Life

The ravenous, smoky aroma of God’s musk, better known as smoking barbecue, catches my attention. I move towards it as if it is calling me. The familiar sight of brisket, along with ribs and pulled pork, brings back a wealth of memories and emotions, some good and some bad.

These emotions often remind me of a specific day when I lived in Texas and went to Miller’s Smokehouse. My family and I walked down a side street in Belton, Texas, which opened up to a storefront with a large garage door surrounded by red brick. Above a porch with outdoor seating swung a large black sign with the name in white lettering. I walked into the building, my feet clomping on shiny concrete floors and my eyes observing the exposed ductwork. It looked like a sleekly renovated building where the architects tried to hold onto the building’s past life. I smelled that same smell of smoking barbecue. A large number of people were bustling about - the after-church crowd. After some time, we finally ordered and found a table to sit at.

In the corner, we saw a woman sitting alone, and my mother asked her to come sit with us. Once she came over, we learned that she was South African and that her husband was teaching a class at a local college. The conversation continued, but I kept thinking how amazing it was that she was able to sit with us. It made me also think about what I need to do to change as a person so as not to miss future opportunities that can come from interactions like this one.

This thought - spurred from a random encounter at a random moment when I lived in Texas - has inspired me from that moment on. Repeatedly, I've compared my time in Texas to the other eight places I've lived, especially Virginia, where I worked incredibly hard to branch out more and become more extroverted. I readily applied this to my life, gaining a reputation of being someone who could get along with everyone, a reverse of the lonely years spent in Texas.

While being stationed at Ft. Cavazos (Ft. Hood at the time) was not always easy or enjoyable, I couldn't have asked for a better duty station at that point in my life. Living there helped me become more vulnerable, as well as connect with more military teens. This is something I often try to share with others who are dealing with their own difficult assignments. If it wasn’t for the Texas barbecue, especially Miller's Smokehouse, I don’t know where I would be today. That same barbecue smell makes me think of what I’ve become. There are parts of every place I have lived that bring out feelings like these. However, none had a greater impact than Texas.


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