The Walmart makes our Tesco look like a newspaper stand. The squirrels are so well fed they startle my sister's dog. Even the not so nice parts of town look nice.
When I first told people I was visiting Dallas they reacted with a facial expression that was part surprise part sneer.
"Why on earth would you want to go there?" they would ask.
A valid question I suppose. Dallas is hardly on Conde Naste's annual list of holiday hotspots.
"I have a sister there and she's just had a baby" I would reply.
On hearing this some would nod as though they understood and others would still look baffled, no doubt thinking 'but who would want to live in Dallas?'
Ah well, there's no pleasing some people. The fact is, here I am in George Bush territory (there's a turnpike of all things named after Bush Senior) and I have to say I'm enjoying every moment of it.
For one thing, I'm with family. Now for some people, this probably sounds like hell. But for me it's bliss. We're one of those weird families that get along and we enjoy one another's company immensely. We're (wait for it) friends. Yes, I'm sure you'll cross the road to avoid catching our cooties should you ever run in to us.
Life is relaxed here in Dallas. Mornings are spent leisurely sipping coffee and munching on toast. Showers are languorous affairs. My sister's dog (or first son as she prefers calling him) is taken for a long walk every morning where he is allowed to smell every tree, lamp post, and dog urine soaked bushel en route. Trust me, it's a long walk. My mother's excellent lunch is wolfed down in a matter of minutes, and then the afternoon is spent in one of two ways: sitting out on the deck or choosing a mall to shop at. The latter is one of Dallas's few past times. The others being strip joints and football. My brother-in-law didn't think it appropriate to take me to the former and the latter was of little interest to me. Late afternoon coffee sessions and dinners in the fading daylight. It has been some time since I holidayed like this. And after the long high way drives in Pittsburgh's frozen Spring(another post - I can almost see the surprised looks of 'Why did you go there?') and the frenetic pace of New York (The MOMA, The Met and too many late nights wiped me out) this gentle way of life is welcome. I feel soothed. Perhaps it's being around family. Perhaps it is the limitless Texan sky. Perhaps it's all the food. I really don't care what it is.
"What, you've never been to Dallas?"