So before I delve into the other Big D’s in my life – divorced, dating, (drunk) and of course, that sometimes beautiful, sometimes formidable part of the male anatomy – I figure it’s best to really set the stage and start with, well, Dallas. Which is the setting for most, if not all, of my tales.
I could talk to you at length about Dallas … about the various neighborhoods and pockets of culture. About the things I love and hate about this city I call home. But I won’t because it really isn’t important. What really IS important about this particular setting is what Dallas and the Big D represented to me. And to understand that, you need to know a little bit of my history.
I grew up in a very, very small town in East Texas. One red light, population .. maybe 2000 .. maybe? We didn’t have a lot of money growing up so oftentimes our family vacation would consist of a drive to the biggest city around us and that would be Dallas. One of my earliest memories is me getting out of the car after what seemed to my small self as an eternity and remarking on how wild it was everyone was from Texas (which I gathered by pointing out license plates). ‘They’re from Texas, Mom. Those guys too!’ My mom laughed and said ‘sweetie, we’re still IN Texas’. Which … was baffling to me. I thought surely Dallas must be in another state, we’d been on the road for just short of forever.
When you’re used to farmland and wide open spaces and short buildings, a city like Dallas can blow you away. Dallas to me seemed like the most wonderful (and also most scary) place on earth. The lights at night, the skyline .. simply magical. Breathtaking and stunning. And scary in that there were so many cars … and insane highways that had up to 5 lanes. I was accustomed to two-lanes and/or gravel roads. I was used to waving at the truck coming down the road opposite of you. I was not used to the honking horns and the middle finger and people speeding across three lanes of traffic just to barely catch their exit. In fact, years later when i finally got my license and learned to drive, I would often have NIGHTMARES about I-635 (much like that infamous scene from Clueless where they end up on the freeway, screaming and crying). No kidding. Actual nightmares. Dallas was all so … much. And I couldn’t decide if that ‘much’ was good or bad.
We visited Dallas often and while it was exciting every time, it was also still just as intimidating no matter how much older I got. East Texas was simpler. Quieter. Dallas was … complicated and loud and pushy. Dallas was every kind of restaurant you could think of. Dallas had every kind of culture you could think of. It was big and beautiful and and bustling and scary. And though it intrigued me, though a part of me LONGED to be in a bustling city like Dallas or NY or LA, I found that when it came time to apply for colleges, I really desperately wanted to stay in East Texas. And so I did for the first few semesters. I was a small town girl, granddaughter of a southern baptist preacher. I fully intended to marry a good ole east Texas preacher and live out my days as minister’s wife. True story.
Fate, however, had different plans.
Getting to the Big D
Shortly I after I went off to college, my parents decided to follow a calling they felt on their lives. They packed everything up, sold their dream home and moved to north Dallas where they helped with the founding of a new church. Yep. There are moments that change your story forever and this was one of them. When my parents moved, I ended up losing a housing scholarship to East Texas Baptist University (yep. I went to a baptist college for three semesters) which meant I had to move with them.
So … Dallas. Well first off north Dallas. And that was a major adjustment. I remember after moving here how … out of place I felt. The city was again just too much for me. The women here … they were immaculate. Perfect hair, glitter butt pants, boobs. So many big boobs. I was the girl that wore cardigans over everything and never wore shorts. I was told ‘modest was hottest’ and they aren’t lying because wearing jeans and a cardigan in 100+ weather is literally the hottest thing you can survive. But that’s what I did, because that’s what they told me. I’m fairly sure I’d never even seen myself naked but here I was in a city that put the latest, skimpiest trends on display and nobody thought anything of it. The mall was a fashion show and it started with 5 year olds. This was unholy and bizarre and new to me. And I spent the next 15 years adjusting.
And oh the ‘adjusting’ … it was a relearning of who I was. It was an education in how the world outside of a baptist church in a small town worked. It was a brutal becoming. Everything I knew till then had been relatively sheltered and protected. To be frank, I was simply a moron … and this was all uncharted for me. And terrifying. And man, am I so grateful for it.
To give you a further insight, when I moved to north Dallas, I was a 19 year old never-been-kissed, never-had-a-boyfriend virgin who’d also never tasted alcohol and who could barely talk to boys without blushing or just awkwardly backing away. I will say, because of my upbringing in the church and my complete dedication to those rules, I was far more sheltered than most from my same small town. The biggest, wildest rule I’d ever broken was staying out too late to ride one more ride at the fair in Longview. I just … didn’t know. Anything. So then when I moved to Dallas I was faced with everything I’d been sheltered from. What had once seemed like a wonderful, magical place that I was only ever going to visit briefly had turned into my new school yard. Dallas was the education I needed and it wouldn’t let me just remain the same, though I tried.
This place is kind of frustrating at times. Overcrowded. Loud. So much traffic. A lot of douchebags. Dallas wants to act like it’s New York … but … it’s not. However, Dallas has been the greatest gift to me.
This is my big D. Well one of them. And it’s an important one. And that skyline is still as magical, as beautiful, as terrifying as it was the first time I saw her. And boy, she is still teaching me every damn day.