The Texan, the Bed and Breakfast, and the Epiphany

The Texan, the Bed and Breakfast, and the Epiphany

on Sep 20, 2011 in Relationships | 6 comments

Photo by Emdot>>

Photo by Emdot>>

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.


A number of years ago, I was on vacation with my girlfriend at the time and we were staying at a bed and breakfast in Taos, New Mexico.

A lot of Texans take their vacations in New Mexico, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on your feelings about Texas. As it happens, there was a Texan staying at the same B+B as we were.

And this guy really looked like a Texan – cowboy hat, bolo tie, and drawl. In other words, the Republican kind of Texan. The year was 2005, as I recall, George Bush was in office and our country was deeply mired in Iraq. So my associations with Texans and Republicans were not positive.

In addition, there we were, a lesbian couple staying at a B+B. At that time, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area which is a bubble of progressive politics and acceptance. But I knew enough about other parts of the country (and Texas!) to feel cautious when we traveled together.

We brought our luggage up to our room, passed the Texan in the entrance area, gave cursory nods to each other and went on our way.

The next morning, my girlfriend and I went to breakfast and there was the Texan and his wife, sitting right across from us at the table. We passed heaping platters of scrambled eggs back and forth, he was friendly enough, but I couldn’t help feel that he was staring at us and sizing us up. In particular, I felt his gaze land on me several times and wondered what was going on and how or even if I should address it.

As we finished up our breakfast and said goodbye, I remembered that I was wearing a button I had gotten earlier that year from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – in bright blue letters, it proclaimed “War is Not the Answer.”

Great. By this time I was convinced that the Texan was going to attack me in the hallway for my stance on war as well as my sexual orientation.

I did everything I could to avoid the main path ways in the B+B so I wouldn’t have to bump into him again.

But despite my best disappearing tactics, it happened. I turned a corner and there he was. Just him, just me… no one else to divert our interaction and help maintain a buffer zone of civility. I got myself ready for it.

“Morning, again.” He said. “May I ask you a question?”

This was it. I decided to pull myself up straight and tall – well, not too straight as the case might be! – and be ready to defend myself. Even as I write this I realize this says much more about me than it does him.

“Sure,” I said. Getting ready to do battle.

The Texan asked, “Is that your partner that you’re with?”

“Yes, she is.”

And then what happened was the most remarkable conversation.

The Texan completely shattered my expectations and stereotypes. He told me that he was happy to meet us at breakfast, and that he was so sorry for the way that gay people were being demonized and not allowed to marry in this country.

And he said he liked my button – and that he too was very distressed by our country’s growing military presence in Iraq.

It turned out this Texan actually was Republican. In the long conversation we had that followed, he told me he was very disillusioned with the way the Republican party was leading the country. He told me he had even been a member of his state party for many years – that is the group of delegates that goes to national conventions and nominates candidates for president – but that he had become so outspoken in his dissent that he had been dis-invited for membership in that group.

We sat down and talked for another half hour… sharing our perspectives on the state of the world, our concern for our country’s future, and then shifting into more personal talk about our families and our lives. We certainly didn’t see eye to eye on every issue, but by the end, we traded email addresses and promised to stay in touch. We hugged and wished each other a good vacation day under the big, blue New Mexico sky.

My point here is not politics, though I’ve just made mine quite clear. It’s about how people can surprise us, and how important it us for us to allow the possibility for that to happen.

None of us is exactly who we were a moment ago, much less yesterday or a year ago. Everyone has potential to change, and everyone has potential to be bigger than the categories in which we so often put them.

The best gift we can give to anyone who we’re in relationship with – our partners, our family, our co-workers, our friends – is to free ourselves from the tyranny of expectations and pre-determined categories.

I will always be grateful to my friend from Texas who helped me learn that lesson.


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.


I’d love to stay in touch with you! When you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll receive my monthly e-letter with reflections on life and liberation, as well as “9 Keys to a Liberated Life.”


  1. Maia,

    Staying open to change in every moment and being willing to be present to who people really…Wow, that’s a huge challenge. There’s so much security in staying with our preconceived notions, but also pain.

    That Rumi quote always makes me think…what does it really mean? It’s not so clear to me. Perhaps beyond words.

    Sandra / Always Well Within

    September 25, 2011

  2. Thank you Maia, for your bold honesty and fearless exploration of how all of us, no matter how progressive we think we are, can succumb to stereotyping, and how breaking down those pre-conceived ideas creates true healing in the world.

    Kristi Markey

    September 22, 2011

  3. A very useful story, I think I often fear what others assume about me and I am nervy and defensive, when in fact they probably think nothing at all except friendly feelings. Thanks for posting.

    Ruth Stacey

    September 21, 2011

  4. Maia what a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing this great reminder to go to the heart of the matter and not be fooled by appearances and preconceptions.

    David Ashton

    September 20, 2011

  5. I love this post. I remind myself every day that no one is just one thing, and I still forget it every day. Thanks for this.


    The Good Luck Duck

    September 20, 2011

    • Roxanne, thanks for stopping by and for leaving this comment — so glad this post spoke to you.

      And — I took a look at the Good Luck Duck website. Wow! You’re doing some wonderful things there! You two may be candidates for a Liberated Life Project interview soon : )

      Maia Duerr

      September 20, 2011


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