Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Size(mic) Map of Texeuropa

copyright 2012 Bonnie McClellan - all rights reserved
Metaphorical scale map of Texas and Europe

Texas is large but the map is only metaphorically in scale. I spent 38 years in Texas and just 7 in Europe but European culture also holds the underpinnings of U.S. culture. In real terms, Texas is about equal to continental France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland all stuck together (but not nearly as densely populated).

As a Texan living in Italy, “Where are you from?” is a question I get asked a lot. It’s an easy answer; I grew up in Dallas and I have yet to meet an Italian who doesn’t know that it’s the city where either:

  1. JFK was shot, or
  2. the TV series Dallas was made.

This is where I fall on a map though few of them could tell you where the state is in the U.S. and I am often, when describing distances in Texas, constrained to superimpose a map of Europe over my internal map which results in comparisons like:

“Texas is about as big as France / Texas è più o meno la stessa grandezza della Francia.”

Or time/distance equations with multiple variables:

“It takes the same amount of time to drive from Dallas to the border with Mexico as it does to drive from Liguria to Calabria / Ci vuole lo stesso tempo di guidare da Dallas al confine con il Messico, come fa a guidare dalla Liguria alla Calabria.”

The interesting part to me is how often I need to superimpose these two maps to orient myself both internally – culturally and historically – and for others who don’t have and internal map of Texas for reference.

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