My fiance, Andrew, loves Wichita Falls, Texas. We drove up there this weekend and he pitched an earnest plea for us to buy his childhood home.
Besides the lack of a down payment, I was not swayed by the quaint architecture or the quiet neighborhood.
“They had Fox News playing in the hotel dining room,” I said.
The hotel featured full length mirrors at the end of every hallway. Every time I passed one it startled me, as though I were encountering myself in some other dimension. They also served to remind me that I didn’t need that cinnamon bun from the breakfast buffet. The atmosphere was somewhere between The Shining and The Biggest Loser.
“Oh that’s just the hotel,” Andrew replied. “The only public liberal arts school in Texas is here.”
The oil boom and bust left Wichita Falls stranded like a second string prom date. The city is filled with empty high rise buildings, evacuated like the set of a dystopian movie. Something with zombies or plague. But it’s also lovely and stocked with my favorite sort of shops — cheap antique stores and artsy coffee shops.
I took this photo standing in the middle of the street while Andrew was distracted by a window display.
Wichita Falls is home to the World’s Smallest Skyscraper, the Newby — McMahon building. A con artist collected money from investors in 1919 and proposed to construct a high rise office building, but the oil men he conned didn’t notice that the blueprints listed the size in inches, not feet.
We’re getting married in October, and I found this floofy hat that I thought I might wear, but Andrew made a face like I made when he suggested moving to Wichita Falls.
I’ve been thinking about our wedding vows, and I don’t think I will include Ruth 1:16 “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people.”
I had to kneel down to get this shot. When I tried to stand up my knees locked and I waved at Andrew to try and get his attention, but he was looking at real estate listings on his phone and didn’t see me. I grabbed his arm and managed to pull myself up as I decided all future photography would be taken at eye level.
As we drove around Wichita Falls I noticed an interesting art display near a large, spooky building that turned out to be a grain elevator.
I convinced Andrew to pull over so I could take some pictures.
As we strolled past a construction worker spray painting a store front, Andrew remarked on how well they were doing, renovating the downtown area.
“I still don’t want to move here though,” I said. “And don’t think the 6,000 liberal arts students will sway me either.”
In the last place we stopped I wandered away from Andrew, drawn to a display of vintage clothing. Nothing fit, the folks were all much smaller back then. You never see that in time travel movies, but really us future folk would be giants. I turned a corner, looking for Andrew, and ran into this guy.
I don’t know what’s more startling, the lion head or the bare feet.
I weaved through aisles of antique glassware, stacks of crumbling books, and bins filled with old records in cardboard jackets. I couldn’t find Andrew and just as I stopped to take a deep breath, he popped up from behind an antique wardrobe.
“I’d know that sigh anywhere,” he said.
I was glad to see him, and glad to load up the car with our purchases and head home. Maybe I could change that verse a bit, make it “Where you will go I will go, as long as it’s convenient to a nice shopping area and has a hospital with a good reputation. Along with reasonable real estate prices and a decent commute to work and a theater.”
Originally published at terryeturpin.com on April 30, 2018.