“How did we ever live in Dallas without cell phones and GPS?” I asked Brittany Wooten as we sat together with Wootens and Keiths at a long table in the Bavarian Grill in Plano.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “We use GPS everywhere we go now.”
I had found (and was to find) the GPS most helpful in deciding what to do to get around a slowdown in the heavy traffic. No more need we guess whether to pull off and go another direction.
The Bavarian Grill appears in Open: A Memoir, so we simply had to eat dinner there. A few copies of the book sat beside for friends to purchase who were joining us. Five years had elapsed since I saw these families, which meant new significant others and new children to meet. Otherwise, everything felt quite familiar and unlike so many years had passed.
“How long were you our youth minister?” one of the Wooten boys asked. They were shocked when I said only two years. “It seems like longer,” he answered. I reminded them that I hadn’t gone away when I moved, but was still around all the time. “I attended seven Wooten Christmas parties in a row.”
Though everything felt familiar, the evening wasn’t nostalgic. Life for all of us has moved on and many things have occurred that we have not been there closely for one another. Our past suddenly felt so long ago.
Most of the people at the table appear in the book, so I enjoyed showing them what pages. The owner of the restaurant came over to read what I had written about it. I ate my favorite meal, the one discussed in the book.
Sunday morning I drove from Plano to Cedar Springs on the Tollway, an easy drive in the early morning. As I pulled up at the Cathedral of Hope the sun was shining and the parking lot was full. I carried my things in. The bookstore sits at the entrance to the church and there was the table for me to use.
A few minutes later I was standing just inside the church doors watching the service when I saw a guy approach the table, as I walked back towards it I realized it was Derrek Housewright, my old college roommate. We hadn’t seen each other for over a decade, so we spent the next hour chatting, in between other people coming by to get their book signed.
Valerie Koontz, another dear friend from college, came and sat with me during the second service and we caught up. After college we used to visit each other regularly, but it had now been a very long time since we had seen one another.
Jason Shockley came and took me to lunch. I met Jason through my second boyfriend, but our friendship has been far longer lasting.
I have three communities in Dallas. The first are college friends who were either from there or moved there after college. The second are those I knew while living there and working at Royal Lane Baptist Church. And the third are folks from my time as a staffer of the Cathedral of Hope. All three communities were represented that morning as I signed books.
Michael, my husband, always teases me with how much I talk about Dallas. But as I was driving away this weekend, I felt okay that I don’t live there anymore. It would be good to visit more often, but I don’t miss it now quite like I once did.
North of Denton I was reminded of how awful it can be to drive from the Metro to Oklahoma City on a Sunday afternoon particularly if it is a holiday or a special weekend, and this was Oklahoma’s fall break. Two long slowdowns on I-35 northbound and then once we crossed the Red River the traffic was solid in both lanes heading north.