In October, I traveled to New York City to see my daughter Jessica, to California to visit my long-time friend Winnie and to Dallas to attend another dear friend’s wedding – and spend time with other friends and my son David. Along the way, I met several people, saw many sights and gathered blog ideas. This is the third and last in a series of posts from my travels.
Friday, October 18th – Sunday, October 20th
Dallas and environs – where I lived and worked for 27 years, where my children were born and raised, and after 11½ years and for 48 hours, I was back. But not really back to the way things were because much had passed into memory, and people and things had changed.
Traveling in Dallas meant highways, and on this trip there were more. Although the I-30 “Canyon” south of Dallas between I-35 and I-45 backed up as usual, the new LBJ/Central Expressway exchange soared, a spectacular mix-master. And overhead tag readers on the President George Bush Turnpike and Dallas North Tollway smoothed the steady flow of traffic.
Still a bit of a young upstart, Dallas sported new buildings, especially near downtown – the arts district and the American Airlines Center – and further north around Northpark, the mall yet retaining its cache. As my son David drove to Richardson and Plano and into our old neighborhood of Los Rios, I noted how trees and shrubs had grown – Japanese Ligustrum, Yaupon Hollies and Oaks. Most of the houses in the neighborhood had held up well to the passage of time.
Had it really been over a decade since I’d tended that yard, called my children in from jumping on the trampoline or playing kick the can in the dark with neighbors Kim and Katie, and driven my car “Martha” out of that garage every morning on my way to work?
For 25 years I taught at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, and in many ways, Ursuline was home. As David drove me around the campus, I marveled at how well the new architecture breathed the tradition of Ursuline while pointing towards the future.
After my children left home for college and life, I left home, too. At the end-of-the-year faculty party in 2002, I told my colleagues, “I’ve learned a great deal at Ursuline and still have much to learn – but I will do it somewhere else.”
I stayed in touch with a few close friends, but never expected to return to Dallas. But then David took a job based in Dallas, and my friend Pat was getting married. To her small, intimate celebration, Pat invited a few Ursuline colleagues, current and former. We “Ya-ya’s” looked older and happy because we had decided to love our complicated work, whether we were still teaching or not, and to love our complicated families – and to let the rest go.
As Pat and her new husband Mike danced the first dance to an old Elvis song, we heard Mike sing, “I can’t help falling in love with you,” and sang along.
Looking back, I thanked God for the years of work at Ursuline and for the years I had with my children and for my abiding friendships. I couldn’t help falling in love, and it was that love I chose to remember.