I'm writing from an old favorite coffee shop in Albuquerque, in a booth responsible for much of my master's thesis six years ago. I just ate a breakfast burrito the size of my head, and practically licked the plate. The weekend stretches before me, and I feel incredibly lucky. The next three days could be measured in coffee cups or wine glasses or old stories or words that cut through all the filler and go straight to the heart of who I am. That's what this town is about. A piece of me breathes differently as soon as I step off the plane here. A piece of me will only ever be at home here.
But I set down today to write not about this city, but the one I just left. Visiting Dallas before Albuqerque was a funny trick, as if I were tracking my personal timeline backwards. Maybe I should go to Boston next, then back home to NC. Sometimes you see things differently when you do them backwards, I think. Or maybe that's just me.
When I left Albuqerque to move to Dallas, to be with T and to put an end to long-distance traveling, the chances of me feeling at home there were slim to none. We actually joked the night we met that I would hate Dallas. It just wasn't anything like my academic/activist nest of Albquerque. But T and I found as "me" a neighborhood as we could, we ate and drank fabulously, and we were at least together. Still, the fact that I was there only for him seeped into everything. I'm stubborn and independent and hated that I'd followed him there. Following him was worth it, but it made life difficult for a while. Dallas and I had a rocky start.
Two and a half years later, we left Dallas for DC. And a year and a half after that brings us to this week, when I visited Dallas for the first time since we moved. The best thing happened, too: I had a ball. I realized firmly, without a doubt, that after all my hangups about being there, Dallas really is a city full of memories that I created, full of people that I care about, and a place that will call me back again and again. This sounds so simple, I'm sure... but it's a bit of a bombshell.
In two days I re-met the daughter of a dear friend who was the size of a football when I last saw her, and is now a walking, talking beauty. I met the new fiancee of a friend who's practically reinvented himself since we left, but who makes me laugh just as hard as he always has. I reconnected with two amazing women who are taking control of their lives in the best way possible, and are both happier than they've ever been. Life is good for the people I care about in Dallas. And life is good for me, too... as someone who's happy not to live in Dallas, but happy to say, at long last, that it's a city I love anyway.
Maybe it's finally time - so many years later - to thank my funny and handsome and smart husband for introducing me to the Big D. Like so many things I said that first night we met, I take my words about Dallas back completely.