I moved to Dallas five years ago.
This fact, coupled with the fact that I have been trying to move to Austin for a while and hopefully will move soon, has made me nostalgic lately about the place I currently call home.
I chose to move to Dallas after graduating from college because there were actually jobs here, which was in contrast to the rest of the country, and there is a lot of advertising here, which was the industry I wanted to work in.
Also, it is a big city, but not so big that it’s unconquerable or intimidating. I was able to carve out a little section of the city that I call my own and adore, but I also know the other parts, and they aren’t as good as mine but are still okay.
And it is a bit far from Tulsa, my hometown, but not so far that I can’t go visit my family any old weekend without much hassle or time spent on the road. But I am still far enough away from my family to make my own way.
When I moved here, the homicide rate was extremely high, and my mom did not want me to live here. But the homicide rate has gone way down, and now my mom does not want me to move to Austin, even though it is much safer than Dallas, because it’s further away from Tulsa.
Dallas is the place I learned how to be a grown-up. Which is to say that there are a lot of really terrible memories here, but also some good ones, but mostly ones of me lamenting how much it sucks to be a grown-up.
But I realized eventually (after making a gillion mistakes and a year and a half of therapy) that the life I lead as a grown-up can look any way I want it to look, it doesn’t have to look just one particular way. (I thought it did.) I thought it sucks to be a grown-up because the life I chose to live as a grown-up, the life that I thought all grown-ups have to live, sucked for me, even though I recognize (or am trying to) that that life doesn’t suck for everyone, it just sucked for me.
Now that I’m living a life as a grown-up that I kind of like, I realize that being a grown-up really isn’t all that bad.
Except for the part where you have to work a job that you might hate just to be able to feed and clothe and house yourself. That part sucks still and never stops sucking.
But if you have a job you like and are living a life you like, being a grown-up is kind of awesome. You can do things that your parents would never let you do, like eat ice cream for dinner or have a boy sleep over or drink and smoke a lot or go on a road trip for no reason at all or have a crazy party or stay up all night watching Weeds.
Either that, or I’m now beat down.
Dallas also taught me how to drive like a banshee.
The first day I moved here I had to drive on 75, from Lovers Lane to Fitzhugh, which is not a long distance at all, maybe three exits, but I was so utterly terrified to drive in Dallas that I stayed in the right lane and gripped the steering wheel the entire time and was pretty sure I was going to die.
My arms were sore for three days after that.
Now I drive with the best of the banshees. Boyfriend says that I see other cars as merely obstacles that get in the way of me and my destination. I think this is a pretty accurate description, because I distinctly remember the day I changed my thinking about driving in Dallas from “Oh God, I’m going to die, none of these people use blinkers and go 20 mph over the speed limit and swerve around everywhere, WTF!” to “Wheeee! I’m going 20 mph over the speed limit and my morning commute is like a super fun obstacle course that changes every day and I think I want to be in THAT lane over there, but I’m not going to use my blinker to do it just to see what happens!”
It was after about two months of living here.
You also get to see cars do crazy shit every day, like turning left from the right center lane without a blinker in front of two lanes of cars, as I saw this morning. That shit never gets old. Also, you get to use your horn a lot, like I did this morning, to notify a car who sat at a green light at least five seconds after it turned green. That is a big Dallas no-no, which I learned pretty much immediately after moving here and got honked at a lot.
During my time in Dallas, I have lived seven different places, worked three different jobs, gotten engaged, married, separated, and divorced, and have seen many friends come and go.
It has been a turbulent time.
I love my neighborhood. It was built mostly in the ’20s and ’30s and used to be the suburbs of Dallas back when cars were just becoming widespread, but now it is considered Uptown. There are wide streets, sidewalks imprinted with the year in which they were laid, enormous old oak trees, lots of squirrels that get run over by cars, and locusts that sing lovely, mournful summer songs in the evenings when the heat and humidity is at its peak and you’re pretty sure you might suffocate.
At one time my neighborhood fell into disrepair, and then the gays came in and gentrified it, and then the gays recently moved to another neighborhood in Dallas that is really dangerous called Oak Cliff in order to gentrify it, but my neighborhood is still called “The Gayborhood” because of its proximity to all the gay bars that are still there even though the gays have mostly left.
I have lived in six different places in my neighborhood, but I especially love the place I’m currently living. It is beautiful. I had a dream the other night that I had to move from my current beautiful place, and I was so sad.
One thing that I really like about Dallas is the summer rainstorms. The sun will be shining, and then the sky will explode and release a torrential downpour of rain, and then a few minutes later the sun will come back out but everything will be soaking wet, like someone came along and hosed down the entire city, and steam rises from the concrete.
I will miss lots of things about Dallas. But the thing I will miss most of all, I discovered this morning, is the goofy ’70s guitar riff that plays before KERA (the Dallas NPR affiliate) does their local morning news. It reminds me of the place I was living last year, my first apartment living alone, where I would sit at my pub table in the breakfast nook, basking in the morning sun, drinking strong coffee, browsing the internet and maybe also writing, and listening to NPR, the knowledge that I’m going to be okay, life is going to be okay, slowly growing inside of me.