Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What we will miss most about Texas day 1: Family

(Facebook post October 2, 2013) 

It has often been said that friends are the family you choose. As we contemplate our last 24 hours in the great state of Texas, we continue to think about our family…our real flesh and blood and those whose friendships are now so dear that the lines have been blurred forever. I think George Eliot said it best, “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” We have found a handful of cherished friends who have enveloped us into their lives and have become our safe place, our family. Those who have loving listened and courageously rebuked when needed, buoyed up and helped us balance when we have wobbled, celebrated the good times and willingly commiserated during the dark days and who commonly agree that the preferred dress code is always PJ’s and comfy cloths. You know who you are…and your friendship, your love, our connection runs deep-like forever!

Last but not least….Lil’ Brother… for the last several years, my real brother has been our roommate and has easily become a constant fixture in our lives. The last few years have easily been eventful, inspiring, restorative, and chuck full of growth for all of us. Neither of us ever anticipated we would live under the same roof as adults and we’ve reconnected and bonded in a way that many grown siblings don’t. This unforeseen and unforgettable season will be one I will always be grateful for. You can make me laugh like nobody else I know. You have taught me more about what is most important than anyone else I know. You inspire me. You have educated me. You have helped to center me. You have brought joy and laughter and depth and perspective and hope into our home. I am a better version of me because of you. You and Burke have been my bookends and my champions. This move back to the motherland does change the game for us but the grilled cheese sandwiches and frittata will never run dry. Love Love Love YOU!

This afternoon, Burke and I watched all of our treasures drive off into the distance. We bleached, swept, scrubbed and scoured and then turned in the keys to our apartment and drove off into the sunset. I cried on and off all afternoon thinking and remembering and reminiscing over the last three terrific years in Texas. We are both empty and full all at the same time and will sleep well tonight in Witcha, Kansas knowing how blessed we have been. Westward Ho! Onward and Forever Upward!

What we will miss about Texas day 2: Friends

(Facebook post September 30, 2013)

Happy to report that as of 10:15 p.m. tonight 95% of our earthy treasures have been bubble wrapped, sorted and carefully tucked into cardboard boxes, rubber maid tubs and bulging duffle bags. A small army of friends arrived tonight to help us move and skillfully played tetris with all of our junk and now our little apartment is looking pretty empty. Tonight, we are a blend of melancholy and exhaustion. Without question, we are going to miss all of the people we have developed friendships with while living in Dallas. I consider myself a collector of people and in the last three years, I have forged lasting friendship with women old enough to be my grandmother, young enough to a daughter and everything in-between. Girl friends are just as powerful and essential to life as gravity and magnets. Burke took a break today and had lunch with one of his friends from work. He came back so happy and grateful for the impact positive people have had in our lives. Our souls have been nourished thanks to occasional trips to the comic book stores and museums, and movies enjoyed at Studio Movie Grill, thoughtful conversations about work and politics and science fiction and technology and zombies and shared meals…lots of stimulating and rejuvenating conversations over good food. This is what life is made of. Connecting to people in meaningful ways is why we slug through challenging jobs and lame projects. Recognizing that you are never alone in universe is a sustaining process and for us one that has been fortified time and time again as we have worked, played, served and survived. Last night, our BFF’s hosted a little going away party and my heart is still brimming with love. I would be lying if I did not admit that we are so excited to reconnect with our SLC network but I dream of a dining room table large enough to host all of our Utah and Texas friends. Burke would cook and I would putter around him. There would be great linens, homemade bread, a vase of colorful flowers and the conversations all of you would have together…now that would be priceless. One day this will happen and you’ll all be invited.

What we will miss about Texas day 3: Faith

(Facebook post September 29, 2013)

We are clearly not going to miss our faith once we leave Dallas…but we will clearly miss the people who have strengthened our faith while we have been here. 

When we moved to Texas we did not know a soul. Needing to quickly select a place to live due to our moving timetable, we jumped online and committed to an apartment that was close to Burke’s work and close to the Dallas LDS temple. We secured a lease based on a quick geographic search and what we would later learn were quite outdated and generous photos. What we did know at the time was that we had selected THE world’s worst apartment complex BUT its location ensured that we became part of THE world’s best congregation of saints. In our church, the members have an opportunity to serve as teachers and in leadership roles as there is no paid ministry. This invitation has provided a sacred and refining opportunity for Burke and I to meet, mingle and become friends with so many incredible people who quickly welcomed us into their homes, their lives and their hearts. From day one, my service was focused on a group of the most dynamic and delightful teenage girls and Burke assisted the Bishop of our ward. Over the next three years, and throughout these service opportunities our faith has deepened, our hearts have healed, our abilities have been stretched, our understanding of Gods love for all has increased. We are better Christians because of our time in Dallas. Each year our church establishes a theme that they invite the youth to focus on. This year the theme comes from a verse of scripture: “Stand ye in Holy places and be not moved.” We feel we were carefully placed inside the Dallas 4th ward and our time in Texas has truly been a holy place for us. We feel so very blessed that out of all of the crappy apartments sprinkled throughout Dallas Texas we landed where we did. Dallas 4th Ward members, you are in our hearts forever!

With only 4 days left living in Texas…this is what we will miss….

(Facebook post September 28, 2013)

Day 4: FOOD a.k.a. yum yum’s….nosh…grub…sustenance….breakfast, lunch and dinner…here are the foods and restaurants we will miss most…in no specific order…

1. Liberty Burger – the onion rings will make you weep

2. Dream Café – great ambiance and breakfast is delicious

3. Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill – best service in Dallas and the Steak Crostini is almost worth staying in Texas for.

4. Hoffman’s Hots – we had no idea a hot dog could be so gourmet!

5. Burger Street – the Frozen Lemonade has been a summer time staple…so tart…so lemon-riffic!

6. Benedicts – their breakfast will blow your mind.

7. Chicken Scratch – great chicken + amazing biscuits in an family friendly outdoor amazement decorated like an upscale chicken coup complete with live music and misting fans…we love this place.

8. Eatzi’s – totally overpriced “she she” deli but oh so delicious…fresh buffalo mozzarella caprese salad, focaccia bread with olives and herbs and the chocolate mousse pie is worth every over priced penny.

9. Rudy’s – best darn gas station BBQ this side of the Mississippi…hunks of flavorful meats served on wax paper by the pound AND all you pickles you can handle.

10. SMOKE – makes me droll just thinking about it…the air outside the restaurant indicated that this IS the place where flavor lives. We have dined there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have never been disappointed. This is the place we take out-of-town guests. This is the place we go to celebrate big wins and dine with friends. We suggest the ricotta cheese pancakes with thick sliced braised apricots or the brisket cornbread hash or the roasted turkey sandwich with THE most delicious blue cheese coleslaw or the duck egg tamale or the big rib or coffee rubbed brisket served two way…or let face it…even the water is delicious. We were thrilled to discover they have recently produced a cookbook, which will be making the move to Utah.

Honorable mention:

Phillip Manwaring Specialty Pie Shop and Shake Shack – Phillip’s careful attention to detail and flavor, his earnest dedication to quality ingredients and a pie-to-person ratio of 1.25 that this pie preaching economist demand has successfully secured permanent invitations for Mr. and Mrs. Manwaring to our Thanksgiving table…as if his never-ending pie panacea were not enough… on occasion if you are nice …this man will hand mix a mean milk shake like nobody’s business.

Dallas, Texas thank you for feeding us well.

What we will miss about Texas day 5: WORK

(Facebook post September 27, 2013)

In 2010, both Burke and I finished graduate school and itchy for an adventure and change of scenery, we cast a wide net and found our way to Dallas. We came for teeth, we stayed for beer (Burke worked for a start up company that supported a technology for the draft beer industry) but we found professional fulfillment and purpose working for two non-profit organizations. My work at Big Thought provided a terrific education…of education. Supporting Dallas ISD teachers and students proved to be both an inspiring and an exasperating experience. From start to finish, I consider my time at Big Thought as a happy accident where I made friends and professional contacts that I will maintain for the rest of my life. Working on a national learning demonstration with the Wallace Foundation provided an invaluable opportunity for me to see first hand the potentials and challenges associated to public and private partnerships. I saw real world evidence of the academic concepts I studied while in graduate school and experienced the field of education with a Texas size lenses. As I continue to reflect upon the good, the bad and the ugly days I take away nothing but gratitude for my BIG Big Thought adventure.

Today was Burke’s last day at AVANCE Dallas and without question it was a melancholy drive home. His role as a head nerd and master problem solver in the business operations department allowed him an opportunity to apply his love for technology with his love for children and families…and he spoke Spanish all day…everyday. AVANCE provides early childhood education for both children and parents and Burke has been honored to be a part of ever growing Hispanic Renaissance throughout Dallas. His only regret is that we are leaving all too soon and he was not able to complete some of the long-term process improvements they have planned—that is the best kind of problem to have.

In both organizations, we have been gifted with talented leaders, mentors and friends who have helped to mold and shape our perspective of time, work, money, partnership, service, business, fund raising, education, integrity and hope. We are brimming with gratitude was we leave Texas after being blessed with amazing professional experiences and connections and will refer back to our time in Dallas for years to come. 

What we will miss about Texas day 6: ARTS & CULTURE

For the last three years, Burke and I have soaked in the Arts & Cultural opportunities available in North Texas. We’ve fallen in love with everything from priceless paintings to BIG TEX, the mascot for the world famous Texas State Fair. As frequent fliers of the Dallas Museum of Art, we’ve spent time with Monet, Picasso and Chagall. Burke’s DMA favorite is the majestic scene “The Icebergs” by Frederick Edwin Church and I love Rothko’s "Orange, Red and Red". In Fort Worth, at the Kimball Art Museum, we raced through a Caravaggio exhibit and were mesmerized by how he captured light and personal expression. Across the street, at the Modern Art Museum, we marveled at the outdoor stainless steel instillation titled "Conjoined" by Roxy Paine, loved "No. 6" by Ad Reinhardt and continue to talk about "Ladder for Booker T. Washington" by Martin Puryer. In October of 2012, we toured the African American Museum and were inspired by a series of Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College. We will never forget the inspiring installation by Ruben Miranda outside the Meadows Museum on SMU campus. The crepe myrtle trees, endless fields of tulips and seasonal pumpkin houses at the Dallas Arboretum provided slice of perfectly manicured nature and helped us track the changing seasons. You could easily swim in the blue and white tiles at the Blanton Art Museum on the campus of UT Austin created by Teresita Fernandez. While visiting The Crow Collection of Asian Art, we watched Tibetan Buddhist Monks create a breathtaking mandala with tiny grains of colorful sand. Last May, for my birthday, Burke took me to Vetro Glass blowing studio in Grapevine, Texas and we watched master artisan create beer steins out of glowing balls of molten glass. After visiting the Old Red museum we learned that Dallas is the birthplace to Frito’s, slurpees and the blues. We have driven through the grassy knoll and looked through the historic window in the Texas School Book Depository. And to top is all off we experienced the magic, and I do mean magic, of the Dr. Pepper Museum located in the booming metropolis of Waco Texas—I’ve got the souvenir cup to prove it. Embracing the Arts and Cultural offerings in Dallas has not only consumed many Saturday afternoon’s but it has expanded our ability to engage with the creative process. I think we see the world and ourselves a bit differently now and consider many of these museums as our forever-favorite places.

What we will miss about Texas Day #7

Exactly three years ago to the week, Burke and I were surround by cardboard boxes, friends and family members as we packed up all earthly belongings in anticipation to moving to the great state of Texas. We spent a few final days celebrating friendships with final trips to favorite restaurants and landmarks enjoying a series of gatherings with pockets of loved one who buoyed us up as we leaped into the unknown and moved to the middle of America. And now, after orbiting the sun three times, we find ourselves in the exact same place. Cardboard boxes from floor to ceiling, a list of final projects to complete, a few meaningful trips to our favorite eateries and oh….the sweet farewells with people who have quickly become family.

What a terrific adventure! Here’s to the final countdown….

Day 7: THE WEATHER. It has been no surprise that we have had a love hate relationship with the weather in Dallas. Right after we arrived a good friend told me it would take a few years for our bodies to acclimatize to the elevation, heat and humidity but in time we would come to enjoy it. This statement was both true and a bit false. In time we figured it out…just don’t go outside from about April to the end of September. Spend as much time as possible outside from October to the end of March. Last night, while enjoying a night at the ballpark, Burke and I both commented how lovely it was to be outside and noted that the fever of 2013 had finally broken. Thank you Dallas for letting us remember why people love living here. No need for a jacket, coat or mittens-ever. No need to scrape a frost covered window. Flip-flops and shorts all year round. Flowering plants and trees about ten months each year. Perennial outdoor dining…dining alfresco truly IS the best-o! We’ve come to love our snowless winters but look forward to crunching the autumn leaves under boots and closed toed shoes, actually needing to wear sweaters and coats and enjoying all evidence of all four seasons.