At Home in Dallas
Winding up our very short visit to Dallas last night, I told Julie that I realized how much I miss this place. I don’t miss the way Dallas looks: big, sprawling, concrete-y, impersonal. I guess I’m spoiled by living out in the country, but man, it looks even more jammed up with construction than ever. But boy oh boy, do I ever miss these people. We saw some old friends, and we made some new ones. The people here are the best. Seriously, I’ve never lived in a place where it was easier to make friends, and where I had so many people with whom I had a lot in common. The Covenant School, where I spent most of the day and gave a talk this evening, is a great place. We go home with such good feelings about having been here, and having invited half the city, it seems, to come down to drink beer and eat crawfish with us at Walker Percy Weekend.
I failed to appreciate how many good things we had when we lived here. We had a great church, great food everywhere, and above all, dear friends. One of the great lessons I’ve learned of my life is that you should not be so quick to walk away from these things. We ended the evening at the Old Monk, sitting right in Tim Rogers’s booth. Gotta leave first thing this morning, but not before going by Central Market to lay in provisions.
I had an encouraging comment after last night’s Dante talk. A parent of one of the high school students whose class I spoke to yesterday about my Dante book told me that her daughter talked for an hour after school about the session (which was about the message of my book). The mom said that her daughter can be diffident about things, and a little standoffish, but after school, her daughter talked for an hour about what I had told them about Dante. Her mother said the girl put it like this: “I hardly blinked when he was talking, and I almost cried twice.” The mom thought I would like to know.
Yes, I would. This is not praise of my oratorical skills, which are middling at best. This is, I think (I hope), evidence that How Dante Can Save Your Life really does have the power to open up the Commedia for students in a new way. I couldn’t tell anything from any of the classes; they almost all had blank expressions. But I had been warned by a couple of teachers not to assume anything from that; this is how teenagers are. The reaction to the talks will come later. What this mom told me was really, really encouraging to me about how the book will be received by an audience I particularly want to reach: students.
Anyway, back to Dallas. I was reminded on this trip of something I knew when I lived here, but had not valued as I ought to have done: the presence in this city of so many intellectually engaged Christians. It’s like this: you can drop the name “Ken Myers” in conversation around the table at a pub, and one or more people present will know who you’re talking about. That’s golden. I miss Dallas. Must make a provisioning trip to Central Market before hitting the road for home today. Can’t wait to come back. Even if we will never live here again, we belong here.
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