North Texas Travelogue – Necessarily Abbreviated

By lex, on December 1st, 2008

You could fall blindfolded out of an aeroplane and land God-knows-where, but within the first five minutes or so you’d know you were in the Texas Republic. The place has a certain, confident sense of self that permeates everything, license plates, air waves, attitude. The Lone Star flag flies over pretty much everything, right up there alongside Old Glory, proud to partner, yielding nothing.

Although just as close culturally to Old Mexico as Southern California, North Texas eschews the pretty convention of Spanish names for its major arteries. People lived here, big men for a big country, and their names are everywhere remembered: I don’t know who Joe Pool was, but I don’t doubt that many a Texas schoolchild does, and people like George Hopper and Walter Stephenson, just to name two, left their names on the boulevards of the burrough of Midlothian as well. I even saw a George Bush highway and a John McCain Road.

There’s something to that, I think. A ten year old growing up on a lane carrying someone’s name might grow to wonder how that man got a road named after him, ask himself what he’d have to do to leave something of himself behind as well when he grows up. Thus are planted the seeds of ambition for an ambitious place. Thus does a prestigious foreign car dealership carry the proud, if unintentionally evocative moniker of “Grubbs Infinity”.

It’s halfway home to Virginia, and I could almost feel a bit of that mid-Atlantic breeze blowing down through the live oak trees, the fading remnants of a riotous fall sweeping across the streets. A big sky pressed down above to remind me that I wasn’t quite home yet, if all those flags fluttering proudly above everything hadn’t hammered the point quite home.

Drove all over hell and gone yesterday, looking at neighborhoods, visiting friends. Hit the stockyards in old cowtown for a bit of a bite around noon, walked out of a chill north wind and into the Star Cafe because I think I might have trod the boards there 15 years or so ago, having flown in to Alliance airport in an F-16 for an airshow. There was a lady of a certain age that ran the place with a familiar grace and grave dignity, and I was sufficiently reminded of my manners to say, “yes ma’am” and “no thank you, ma’am” when the opportunity was given, knowing that these would be taken not as a courtesy but rather as a well-earned right.

Thence to posh Southlake, which is, non-intuitively, north of Fort Worth in the Grapevine area, where a good friend lives in the kind of house that would not have been out of place in some leafy suburb of Northlake Chicago, which is in fact where he and his lovely bride came from. I bought a pair of Cabernet at an upscale market hard by to warm the visit up, one for his family and another for some old friends that I’d be visiting afterwards for supper. Were it not for that portentious chill in the air outside and a certain majestic sweep to the horizon, I could easily have imagined myself in Southern California. The wine was a lovely, buttery red, Tangley Oaks ca. 2005 (lot 9) and I really must track some more down once I get home. My friend was blooming at a local defense giant, as was his beautiful family more prosaically at home.

Then down to Midlothian, south of the metroplex, to meet a very dear pair of friends I have seen far too little of over the years. In a kind of marked contrast to the northern suburb, they lived in a ranch house at the end of a lane with acreage, horses and a creek in back. The house looked warm and inviting from down paddock, and the dinner conversation was very fine.

All of this was wonderful, and it has given me a very great deal to think of as I prepare for an interview some two and one-half hours from now. Meanwhile, back at home, the Kat judiciously searched for “more affordable” housing in the Carmel Valley area, at least as contrasted to the Crushing Burden of Debt we currently call home. The notion being thought – in her mind at least – no oxymoron but rather an eminently rational counter-proposal to this mad, impetuous adventure her father had gone a-tilting on.

With that informing the moment, I’m all about earned value management, cost, schedule and performance, wondering, like my imaginary 10-year old on Joe Pool Road, what it is that I’ll be when I grow up.

 

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