This is my love letter to Dallas and it might be the first and only one ever written because nobody writes love letters for Dallas. We save those for the romantic cities (Paris, New York, San Francisco), save those for the poetic cities, the cities that claw at our small-town dreams and beckon to us, the cities that promise streets full of art, cities that plume turquoise and tangerine and neon, cities that people write movie scripts about. But I do not come from those cities and though I have dreams about them like everyone has dreams about them, I am from Dallas, TX, the big D, the dirty D, a city lodged into the north of the state with shitty public transportation and a bad rep for not being as hip as its stepbrother, Austin. This is where my roots begin and even as they now stretch messily along the east coast and have sent me swerving throughout the country and abroad, all of the stories for the rest of my life will begin in Dallas, my home, a city that is sometimes bruised and sometimes ugly and sometimes a little bit of both.
Because Dallas is a messy and complicated city. Here, you’ll find some of the wealthiest people you’ll ever meet in areas like Midtown and Preston Hollow (wuddup, Bush) and some of the poorest in neighborhoods in the south of the city. This is a land dominated by bouji suburbs in the north where new money suits from communications and banking industries collided and made families with busty blondes who stain the air with hairspray and the carbon run-offs of their large SUVs, all burrowing into intoxicatingly large homes in Plano and Frisco. Then of course the artists (because we have those too) and the gays who stuff themselves into small strips of land in Deep Ellum and Oak Lawn. And all the people who fit none of these categories who live in small apartments in Oak Cliff or moderate two-storied homes in Carrollton Farmer’s Branch or Uptown, the people who go to local farmer’s markets and live small, quiet, content lives who see Dallas as simply their street, their neighborhood. We live like the cracked pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope, swirling and churning into compelling bursts of color, pointed decidedly toward the sun.
However, for all of the diversity of life and experience that you’ll find in Dallas, we’re still often reduced to nothing more than a passing joke. To mockery, caricature. Pop culture has crafted our city into something worth dramatizing (in shows like the infamous Dallas and the less than wonderful Good Christian Bitches), something worth laughing at, this land of dust and hairspray and southern drawls and lands stitched together by rolling highways. But even as we are these things, we are so much more. We hold steadfast to tradition. We believe fiercely in good manners and call everyone Sir or Ma’am and hold open doors for people and always say Thank You. We believe in helping one’s neighbor. We don’t understand what filters are and have never thought of not speaking our minds or telling people exactly how we feel. We are right wing and left wing, radical and conservative and don’t need political pollsters painting our city red or blue because we are the descendents of rugged pioneers, of men and women with weathered hands and spirits who stumbled upon a river in the north of Texas and decided to make something of this place.
And they did. For all the ways in which this city fails, it constantly surprises me with the ways in which it succeeds. This is a place of hidden gems, with vibrant minds working toward making a difference. And even though there will never be a show like Girls that will use Dallas as a backdrop for its struggling 20something protagonists and it will never inspire schools of poetry and there will never be songs about leaving hearts and souls in Dallas, it will be a city that will continue to survive and produce intelligent and caring people who will have big feelings and opinions about everything ranging from the color of your Mama’s new dress to discussions of secession and education reform and fighting for marriage equality. I guess at the end of the day, the way I feel about my hometown is the way everyone everywhere feels about their hometowns: I can talk as much shit about it as I want, but as soon as anybody not from Dallas says anything negative about the city, you best believe that I’m gonna get real Texas all over their ass real quick. Because despite what anyone not from Dallas might say (myself often included), this is a city worth having pride in, a city worth something, a city that anyone should be happy to call home.