• 79°

Good to be back in Texas

It’s good to be home again.

For the past 14 years, I have been away from the Lone Star State. In 2003 I signed up for the Peace Corps and ended up staying overseas until 2009, returning to the U.S. to go to graduate school at the University of Mississippi. I had always wanted to live in the Deep South (too much Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner, I suppose) and so I enjoyed my time in Oxford then Clarksdale and Picayune, way down south.

The last 14 years have taken me to some interesting places, and I’ve seen and eaten quite a bit of interesting (some might say disgusting) delights, but through it all I have been ever aware that I was far from home.

I grew up in Corpus Christi. I spent my summers (and winters) in the Gulf waters surfing or sailing or snorkeling. And I remember well those sultry school mornings where the streets and sidewalks would glisten with moisture although it hadn’t rained it days. Fire ants, mesquite tree thorns and sticker burs were not infrequent in my childhood experiences.

So, perhaps it is less than surprising that while I was away, I would try, as best as I could, to return with regular frequency to the sea. I served in the Peace Corps in Haiti and then, after we were evacuated, in East Timor — both tropical island nations. Although nothing could have prepared me for the sheer mass of crushing humanity that exists within a Haitian market, the shoreline and the coastal areas, with their palm trees and tangy, salty air were familiar and calming reminders of home.

Oxford, Mississippi was a whole other matter. Some may—and do—romanticize sitting on a front porch some bourbon-soaked evening, enjoying the soft moonlight on pale magnolia blooms, but these are not my ways. While I enjoyed the experiences in Oxford and the Mississippi Delta, they were, in some ways, as foreign as that crowded Haitian market place. I was happy to be there, but it wasn’t home.

Home to me means taquerias, grilling and beach bonfires. When I think of fast food, I think first of Whataburger. When I think of a grocery store, I think first of H.E.B.

While I spent most of the weakened unpacking and haven’t had much of an opportunity to see the community, it feels familiar.

All of which to say, I am happy to be here and I am looking forward to staying for as long as the community will have me. My goal in the coming weeks and months is to earn the trust and respect of you, our readers, and the community. I want to continue the paper’s legacy and commitment to the community and add depth to that — to include even more people from the community in our pages. Community journalism is alive and viable because and only when newspapers remain important to their communities. Therefore, if anyone has any ideas or suggestions or even complaints about our community coverage, please do not be shy. Let us know what you would like to see in our pages. Let us know what you would like us to cover. We are here for you and we are here with you.

Finally, let me add, while the beach, the food and the climate are familiar, it is the people, really, who make a place home. So, in addition to expanding our community coverage and in addition to getting to know the area, I look forward to meeting all of you, our readers.

Jesse Wright is the editor of The Port Arthur News.