Becoming a Texan

For six months now, I’ve been the editor-in-chief at SUCCESS here in Dallas.

Before that, I was the editor-in-chief at Parenting Magazine in New York City, and I didn’t want to get stuck doing stories on potty training for the rest of my life. Also, we lived in the New York suburbs in the ridiculously overpriced county of Westchester, where we were paying—I kid you not–$26,000 a year in property taxes alone. It also happened that my husband Eric and I got hooked on the HGTV shows House Hunting and House Hunting International, and when we saw the kind of digs other people were getting for their money, we questioned our sanity.

Then the SUCCESS job came up, and by August 15, I started the process of becoming a Texan. Go Mavs! (just when the Knicks are finally kicking some butt) Part of turning Texan was easy. People here are much nicer than New Yorkers. When I go to the SuperTarget (we had plain old Targets in New York), I still can’t believe how friendly the checkout people are. When I say “how are you today?” they often say “GREAT!” I’m sorry, New York, but no cashier in your history has ever said that, or even anything close to that. I think it’s because you can have a nice life on a cashier’s salary in the Dallas area, but life on a cashier’s salary in New York, to put it mildly, sucks.

It’s a family joke that I’m always cold. When I say “It’s cold in here!” they yell “No it’s not cold, Mom, you’re cold!” We’re still in a serious drought here in Texas so I really am grateful when it rains. But the sun….that blazing Texas sun ….ohhhhhh! I soak it up like a cat. I sit on park benches purring. It snowed last night up in New York. Ha!

Coming to Texas had its challenges, though, namely driving on highways. I got in a car accident when I was 18, and it led to somewhat of a phobia about highway driving. In the New York ‘burbs, I could always get around by taking the scenic route (the back roads). But to get from my apartment in Frisco to my job here in Lake Dallas, I would have to brave a 4-lane highway with a speed limit of 70 and where half the drivers are going 90. And then I had to switch to a different highway, and merging was the part I dreaded most. I bought a GPS.

My boss’s wife, who I adore, twice drove me to work and back (she was working here then). If it weren’t for Joy Jamieson, I would be somewhere in Minnesota desperately looking for the exit to Frisco. Now there was nothing left to do but to hold my nose and jump into the deep end. Is part of the reason people here are so religious that they find themselves in their cars with no other hope of getting home than divine intervention? For those of you who don’t know Dallas, the roads look like something out of The Jetsons, or like a roller coaster custom-made for Paul Bunyan.

And by the way, women here do NOT have big hair. Everything else is big—big highways, big houses, big cars, big Walmarts. But I digress.

I went through two red lights. I got in many near-accidents. Once at night I got so confused I suddenly hit and landed on a giant concrete block that was put in the road to say “You idiot, you’re not supposed to be driving here.” I’m really grateful I made it home on my busted tire, and made it to the dealer to shell out the $250 for a new one (and seriously, I credit the prayers).

And now, like a Texan, I LOVE to drive. When I swoop down those twisty roller-coaster roads my inner child is screaming “Wheeeeeee!!!” I’m blasting Adele on my new CD player and I swear I sing just like her. I love to drive so much that just the other night I sailed right past the exit to Frisco because an old Al Green song was on the radio.

But the thing is, I knew that when I took the next exit and went into the huge Starbucks there, some nice person was going to get me back to where I needed to go. And that’s exactly what happened.

I’m a Texan, y’all. And I love it.

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