Why I’m Moving to Texas

Jules Taylor
8 min readApr 30, 2022


You’ve gotta make the right decisions, and sometimes those right decisions don’t give you any indication that you’ve made the right choice. Your gut turns inside out when you think about it, your brain tries to convince you not to do it, and your heart sure as hell ain’t in it. But if you’re staring down the barrel of a gun, forced to reckon with the truth of the matter, you should pay attention to what that voice has to say.

I’m like any musician from a small town with big dreams. I left home and lived in Nashville for a while before I moved to New York. I had moved to Arizona before all of that, and so while most of my family still lives in or around that same small town in Texas, I feel like I’ve been on the road for the last 18 years. It’s not that the people I’ve met or the places I’ve lived didn’t feel like home, because I have been made to feel at home by the people in these places and I am forever grateful and love them for it. It’s just that I carry a certain amount of guilt for living so far away from home, and the people that raised me are getting a little older, and so occasionally I ruminate deeply on a very heavy line of thinking — does my life, wherever I might live, contain an adequate sense of meaningfulness?

The word ‘adequate’ is doing a lot of work in that statement. In my estimation, as it applies to my life, ‘adequate’ in this sense means precisely whatever meaningfulness my life may contain, it must outweigh the meaningfulness of seeing my family consistently. That’s a tall order to ask of any community, but it’s also an easier decision to make when you’re young.

In 2009, my grandmother passed away, and I was living and working in Nashville. Her name was Carolina, and I was an adjunct instructor at a trade school teaching music production to a bunch of enthusiastic students. Teaching provided meaningfulness in my life during that time. There is much to be said about the joy of pedagogy and the gift of being present during the first moments of a student’s educational development, but most of the meaningfulness that gave fulfillment to my life derived from the fact that both my maternal grandparents and my mother were teachers, and I knew it made them proud to know that I had carried that family legacy forward.

In 2018, when my grandfather passed away, I was living in Saugerties, NY. I had a good job working as a manufacturer’s rep, I had an album to release the following Spring, and my life in the Hudson Valley contained an abundance of meaningfulness, all of which fulfilled me and made me comfortable with the roots I’d grown in Ulster County.

You get used to receiving those phone calls from Texas you wish you didn’t have to answer. You know your aunt, or your mother would not be calling you at a strange hour unless something was wrong. Sometimes it’s a grandparent in the hospital but the doctors say they’re going to be fine. Those phone calls stick out in your mind like a past-due debt collector you know you’ll have to pay but you keep putting it off.

When I got the phone call about my grandfather, I flew home as soon as I could. I had no idea his condition had deteriorated beyond him being capable of speech, but I did get to see him one last time. I felt I had somehow been robbed of a final interaction, not because of the timing of his death but because of circumstance. If I had been home a few days earlier, perhaps I would have had that final opportunity to speak with him.

Earlier this year, I visited my mother for a few weeks in Corpus Christi, TX. As some of you may already be aware, she was admitted to the hospital while I was there in September, and she’s since recovered and she’s on dialysis now. I set up a GoFundMe for her at that time, and the amount of generosity she received affirms the full weight of meaningfulness to be found in our communities. Things are going well with my mother on dialysis and my sister is a nurse that lives at home — so my mother’s situation is as optimal as it can get and I’m not at all worried about care aspects with my sister around.

Here’s the thing: when I ask myself now, does my life have an adequate sense of meaningfulness, I don’t know how any amount of meaningfulness could outweigh spending time with my mother. Right now. Not when she’s on her deathbed. I know from experience that sometimes you don’t get to make it home in time to speak to people one last time. I know I feared she might die while I was there in September, and all of this is happening way ahead of schedule considering my mother is only 16 years older than me (I’m 38).

But you know, you can’t just move home with the sole intention of spending time with your mom, right? I mean, you could. It’d be a little weird. I’m not judging, you’re judging.

I mean you’ve gotta have a life, a community, projects, and all those things that provide meaningfulness and give weight to our existence. I’ll tell you that I don’t know many people in Corpus Christi, TX. I’ve never played a gig in that town, I don’t know a thing about any of the local venues, and I’m stepping into this next chapter in a bit blind as to how I might live just hanging out at my mom’s house.

I know it’s not just going home to hang out with my mom. It’s also going back to the places where I started. But it’s not the same person returning that left Corpus Christi in 2005.

I don’t know what all rejoining with Texas will entail, but I know the person I am today has serious problems with how things are going back in the Lone Star State.

I want to opine here about the political climate in Texas, but rather than make the rest of this goodbye letter about Texas, suffice to say the issues I care about the most are women’s bodily autonomy, trans rights, and the rights of the undocumented. All those issues are at the forefront in Texas. Perhaps I resonate with these issues most deeply because I spent my childhood in a house full of Mexican women; maybe it’s because I grew up crossing the border and I’ve been exposed to what poverty looks like outside the United States; maybe it’s because my sister fell in love with and married a woman?

A bright spot for me in all of this is knowing that I will continue being an activist and cultural commentator in Texas, and I can direct my efforts toward these critical issues. I don’t know exactly what that looks like at this moment, but I find myself excited at the prospect of channeling my efforts in those directions.

So that brings me to now and the elephant in the room, which is the community in New York to whom I must bid farewell. There’s Jon Light, the best damn sideman you could ever possibly ask for. There’s Tod Levine, the brilliant producer whose wisdom has made me a better engineer and an even better human being. There’s Gary Rose who went out of his way to make sure I knew my lyrics affected him, and in doing so he affirmed every note I ever played. There’s Brock Purdy, a brother to me and a damn fine harp player. There’s Pearl Moon and a whole network of friends and musicians. All the people at Colony. A lot of people in Saugerties and Woodstock. Inevitably, I will leave some people out because it’s impossible to name every single person and every single place that welcomed me.

It’d be a more difficult decision if housing prices had not gone through the roof in the past two years. If Central Hudson had not lost its damn mind. If the decently paying jobs were not all in the city. If the winter wasn’t as cold, or if the live music season didn’t shut down for part of the year. Even if we could push all of that aside, I think living through a continuing pandemic has forced me to reevaluate the direction my life was headed in living in Upstate NY. That reevaluation sparked a recalibration of what is most important, what is most meaningful.

I have a friend from the Hudson Valley who recently moved to Texas, but I got a chance to hang out with him before he moved back in the Fall. We got to talking about how the pandemic changed us and he said something I’ll never forget, something I’ve given much thought to since.

My friend was serious when he looked at me and said, “I don’t believe in the future anymore.”

I can only speculate what all that statement means to my friend, but for me, I think the pandemic has reminded all of us that life is short, and you’ve gotta do what makes you happy during your limited time here on the planet. The pandemic also reminded us that we leave this world like a novel mid-sentence. There is no closing paragraph or epilogue. The melody of our life does not resolve when we die. Death is often discourteous — abrupt, unexpected, and untimely. But we did not need a virus to remind us that death may be lurking around every corner, or at least I could have done without that reminder because I tend to receive those reminders in the form of phone calls from Texas.

So, on Tuesday, I’ll be leaving New York with a carload of guitars, books, clothes, and my cat. I’ll be leaving much in the same way I showed up. I arrived with pretty much the same items. I’ve added some books, swapped some guitars, picked up a cat, and bought some new t-shirts.

I always felt like moving back home with your mother wouldn’t feel like a victory, but this certainly isn’t defeat. Somehow, now that I’ve homed in on what contains the most meaningfulness, I know this is the right choice to make at the right time. I know my exit will feel a bit discourteous in some ways. I haven’t given anyone much warning on this. This will come as a surprise to most.

I don’t know how to soften my exit other than to leave you with this open letter and some new music. By leaving the Catskills for the shores of Corpus Christi, I’m living out some of the lyrics. “She makes me want to trade, all these mountains for the coast, Goddamn I miss my Carolina most.”


So long, for now, New York.


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