I Didn’t Truly Appreciate Dallas Until I Spent Two Years In Austin.

Back in 2014, I decided to move to Austin for a job opportunity. And while I really enjoyed my time there, I couldn’t help but miss Dallas a little bit.

About a year into my stay, I even wrote this little love letter to my old hometown about all the things I missed the most since moving away. On a side note, I can’t believe I left Kalachandji’s off that list. Old East Dallas, I love you, babe. I mean, the closest natural swimming hole may be hours away, but I still have nothing but all the love for you.

Anyway, circumstances changed and I’ve recently moved back home to Dallas — only, so much has changed in just my two years away. Mostly it’s been for the better, sure, but in so many ways this isn’t the same Dallas I left behind.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

I don’t understand what happened to the roads here. How many times have I only barely avoided head-on collisions on what is currently being called “Munger” you ask? Four. Four times. Already.

Also, why all of the sudden does everyone say things like, “the F.O.E. is so over.”? Seriously, what’s up with that?

Another thing I’ve noticed is that several pieces of Austin have followed me back to town, like that Haymaker that’s slated to open near the southern tip of Lower Greenville where Flying Saucer used to live. And let’s not forget places like Tacodeli, Alamo Drafthouse, Torchy’s and Houndstooth that are all quite prevalent here, too.

When I left in 2014 I got asked all the time by Dallas friends why I’d ever want to live in Austin. I got asked the same thing by Austin friends when I said I was moving back. Now I get asked by both which city really is the better of the two. The truth is, at this very moment, I might accidentally recommend an Austin restaurant to someone in Dallas, although we’re seated in the heart of Dallas proper. And, I might do the exact opposite to an Austin friend. I’ve completely lost track of what notorious establishment sits in which city. But I do know one thing — Dallas is on the real grind. It’s been doing so for a while now.

Between new weekly parties like All/Everything, new bike shops (not to mention the recent uprising of group rides), or Downtown Dallas/the DMA opening up their yard, Klyde Warren Park, in ways I’d never imagined, I remain impressed by Dallas’ creative and cultural uprisings. The scene is growing, and it’s also growing up.

The local T-shirt artists I once wrote about missing spending time with? Well, Joonbug McIntosh of Fresh Kaufee and Jeremy Biggers and Sam Lao of Unkommon Kolor are all off doing larger commissions, new shows and building a name for the scene. Local illustrator Arturo Torres took off with Shea Serrano with The Rap Year Book, a multiple-time New York Times Best Seller.

And, although those East Dallas roads are currently under heavy construction, they don’t stop me from visiting Deep Ellum often. That neighborhood has been on the come-up for a long time now, but today it’s thriving beyond my comprehension. I rode my bike down Main recently and stopped in for a haircut at High & Tight (along with a whiskey neat.) Next, I ate a sandwich at Uncle Uber’s, because it’s always going to be great and, I couldn’t pick just one of the bajillion new spots to check out instead.

And, as far as transportation goes, I somehow now commute more by foot, bicycle and light rail here in Dallas than I ever did in Austin. Everyone in Austin told me public transportation there was horrible anyway, but, personally, I took the bus five times a week to work. Quite frankly, that’s how I became comfortable using the bus and rail system in Dallas.

Sure, the overall crime rate went up, my favorite (and only) vinyl toy store, ATAMA, is closing and I can’t swim in The Trinity. But, things flex, things change and if there’s one thing Dallas is good about it’s taking a problem and turning it into an opportunity.

As a new Dallas resident (sorta) I’m personally taking the opportunity to soak it all in this time. There’s a lot to be appreciative around here if we just take the time to notice. And what’s been the biggest thing I noticed so far this time around? That whole “nothing ever happens in Dallas” idea is complete horseshit.

So, no, this isn’t the Dallas that I left two years ago — and I couldn’t be any happier about it.

Cover photo by Brandon Mikeal.
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