Three weeks ago, if you’d told Lauren or me that we’d be living in Dallas, Texas at some point, we would have assured you that it would never, ever happen.
It’s more or less a fluke that we came to Dallas at all. When we left New Mexico, our plan was to head to Dallas to take the kids to the State Fair of Texas and then head down to Austin. We had it all planned out. We’d arrive on Wednesday, because that’s the day the Fair has reduced admission if you bring cans of food. So, eight cans of beans or something plus about $20 and we were going to give the kids a few hours of childhood memories.
Then, my Dad passed away and that pushed back our move bv a day. No Wednesday arrival but maybe we’d get to the fair later in the week and then we planned to head down to Austin. We liked Austin, we’d lived there before and the Keep Austin Weird lifestyle seemed to suit us since we’re — ya know — weird.
We never made it to the Fair.
We found a Studio 6 hotel we liked near Dallas, though. It was small and cramped with two adults, three kids and two cats but we’d known it would be small and were prepared to deal with that for a month or two if we had to. We thought we’d be in the Dallas hotel and then move down to one in Austin.
One week ago, I thought we’d be staying in the Dallas for another month and then we’d be heading south. I’d paid for the hotel a month in advance and was settling down to work.
Then I went to church last Sunday. I’d found a Unitarian Universalist church that was close enough to the hotel and that was doing stuff for Halloween. This was a big deal to the kids, who wanted to see what ‘trunk or treat’ was about. I wanted to light a candle for my Dad.
I’ve drifted in and our of UU churches for about eight years now, in Austin and then Southern California and a little bit in Albuquerque. During times of real personal upheaval a few years ago, going to the UU church was a real help and it was pretty strange to me how in many cases the message delivered there was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
So last week, I went to light a candle for my Dad and it happened to be the week they were celebrating the Day of the Dead, complete with an alter with sugar on it. The kids and I went to church, sat in the back row and I lit my candle and the kids quietly sang along with hymns. The message was about prayer and how prayer isn’t winning the lottery. They played Eric Clapton’s song Change The World early in the service and the CD skipped and everyone laughed. The man sitting in the row next to me said, “We have a lot of fun here.”
After the service, I talked to that man about the church and how we ended up there; about having to move from New Mexico and going to Dallas for the fair and staying in the hotel and so on.
And — that man happened to have a townhouse that he’d just moved out of…and he offered to rent it to us, really cheap, for a couple of months. After the service, I told Lauren and it almost didn’t seem real. It was too…perfect. The place sounded like exactly what we needed; affordable, three bedrooms, right in the city.
Something else had happened in our time in Dallas…we discovered we like the city, a lot. It’s a big, modern city with great grocery stores and restaurants and lots to do.
So, we went to look at the townhouse and it was even better than I’d imagined. Lauren walked around with a grin on her face. The kids ran around and picked out rooms. That was on Wednesday, just three days ago. We moved in on Thursday.
And now we live in Dallas.