"What will y'all have?" asked our waitress in a friendly way. We both settled on variations of the catfish. Tess brought out her iPhone and started telling me the latest news about Trump Junior. "No politics here!" I said, eyeing our fellow patrons.
From my perspective, we already stood out, with our iPhones and our northern accents. In some ways, the little town felt like a foreign country. I wondered how these people would have felt if they heard a conversation that denigrated one of their heroes. There was no time for true connection in that restaurant. However, there was also no need to be rude. Intolerance presents in many ways, sometimes unknowingly.
As we continued our drive through Texas, into Oklahoma, and on to Kansas, I thought about the boarded up homes and businesses that we saw in the abandoned town in Texas. A ghost town, where countless dreams had died. I started to understand the anger and despair that had ushered in our current establishment.
There is such a need for people to connect. North and south. City and country. Citizens and newcomers. We need to talk, as people, who share many of the same values despite our political differences. We need to open up our homes to strangers, share a meal, and talk.
And talk some more.