Though I know it's not just a Texas moment, as I tell the boy how my dad bought me a BB gun when I was little, but I was all into Bambi and wasn't interested at the time. He had guns and wore a cowboy hat, but he was Californian born and raised.
Later we meet up with the boy again on the swings and somehow it comes up that I'm from California.
"California? It's hot there isn't it" he asks.
"Yep, sometimes," I say, "But it can be cold too. When we went out in August last year, it was cold at the beach."
He was a little surprised about that...probably as surprised as I was to hear a Texan talk about how hot California is. I mean, compared to Texas in summer, Califonria heat is nothing.
A few minutes later he says, "I know they don't have a lot of cars out there, in California."
"Sure they do," I answer. "Just as many as here."
"Do they ride horses?" he asked.
"Yes, but probably not as much as out here."
"Oh, well I've never been to California. I'm a Texan."
I'm sure if you had asked me about Texas when I was 6, what I would have said something just as sketchy and far-fetched about it. I probably wouldn't have said "I'm a Californian" though. I don't think I even thought of myself as Californian until I left.
There's a difference between saying, "I'm from California" and "I'm a Californian." The first is just about where you live, the second takes ownership. It says, this isn't just the place I occupy--it's who I am (or part of it anyways). Its why I can still think of myself as "Californian" even though I've been out here over 10 years and don't have plans to move back. It's why my mom still calls herself a New Englander, even though she hasn't lived in New England since her teens. It's why I'll probably never be able to say, "I'm a Texan" no matter how long I live here.
But you don't have to be born someplace to have that kind of ownership. Some people who move to Texas really do become Texans...they own it. Like how we became "mountainers" when we moved to the California mountains. We didn't move there because we had to...we FOUGHT to get there. We had been longing for that place with every vacation trip we took there, and when we got there it was home. It still is home. And I still miss it.
(And I miss my Dad.)