I love me some Texas, I do. And, since my parents live in East Texas, I am lucky enough to be able to visit the Lone Star State more than most.
My parents live about an hour and a half east of Dallas, so it would be easy enough to fly from LA to Dallas, then drive a little to get to their place by dinnertime. But, and maybe it's the residual memories of the "Dallas" soap opera ("Who shot J.R.??") or the historic proximity to the grassy knoll where JFK inhaled his final breaths, I have a soft spot for the denim-n-diamonds city of Dallas. Our favorite hotel is the Fairmont, where the five of us can fit comfortably into a corner suite and decompress from a travel day before heading to Grandma and Grandpa's house.
What is it about this ritual that I love so much? Many years ago, I read a photojournalistic book called "the journey is the destination," and the phrase stuck with me. I mean, are any of us really going anywhere? Or are we firmly stuck in the "here" and the "now," which is all that we really have control over? In which case, we don't know if we will ever really reach "the destination," so we may as well relax and enjoy where we are, even if we are en route to a fabulous or far-flung or family place.
And so it is that Dallas has become my Texas "rest stop." All the "work" has been done - for this trip, it means that the gifts have been wrapped and shipped from home and the kids' school is out, there is no work for Raf, no dishes or meals or laundry - and we can breathe and be together, watch a "still in theaters" movie on the hotel TV while snuggled up in the big fluffy bed, order room service that arrives with a side of the Southern charm and hospitality that we've come to know with the Fairmont staff. The kids take long baths and emerge, sparkly clean and fresh smelling, in white robes. We love it so much that we rarely ever even leave the hotel room.
When we do leave, the streets remind me that we aren't in California anymore. Shoe shine stands, BBQ joints with smoke curling up from the roof, the flagship Neiman Marcus department store, men strolling in cowboy hats and boots, lots of dusty pick-up trucks... as well as Starbucks and glitzy stores and well-turned-out ladies. I wonder, sometimes, what it's like to live there, but that thought defeats the purpose.
Be here now. How can I enjoy it as much as possible before moving on? With a healthy dollop of spicy Texas BBQ sauce and a nod from the brim of my hat, that's how.