At this holiday at home, everything feels right. I will never live in Dallas again, but I do have a qualified love for it. Certainly there are numerous more beautiful and desirable cities, but all of its shortcoming make it distinctly “home.” Dallas is physically large in every way, much like Texas itself. The city feels wide and open. The buildings are big, as are the parking lots, cars, and people within. You won’t see a person walking down the street. You won’t see a hobo. The vastness, and subsequent car-culture swallows individuals from view. And while you won’t see a modest portion at a restaurant, you can eat some pretty decent food. There is a certain rural aesthetic that infuses all sights. Any part of town that isn’t obsessively maintained, quickly weathers down and sprouts wild grass. The prairie is under all of this cement; you can see it in the vacant lots. While the bulk of the area is sprawling suburbs homogenous to their vintage, the interest lies in the contrasts between poor and rich, downtown and uptown, black and white, developed and rural. I developed this distinction early during a childhood move from a wealthy neighborhood to one of the poorest.
The neighborhood where my parent’s live I call “the Barrio”. Much like many suburbs during urban growth, the town of Cockrell Hill was absorbed into the Dallas city limits. But as it is very poor and almost entirely hispanic, the atmosphere feels closer to Mexico than America. As I spent most of my childhood here, the feel of the neighborhood is appealing: Spanish signs, Mexican restaurants, Tejano music, garbage everywhere, modesty, scraping by, buildings weathering and falling apart. This less-organized version of civilized life is in my blood. Oddly enough, every place I’ve lived since then has been the opposite of home. Suddenly muchachos were yuppies, rural woods became majestic woods, big trucks became nothing. There’s only one reason I shouldn’t have lived in a poor part of town since leaving home: there’s no neighborhood like this on the west coast. While there is crime and gang-banging around here, the place still feels laid back. And even if I feel safe because it’s familiar, other places manifest their danger and desperation in more apparent ways.
Where else can you spend new year’s eve listening to the war zone outside as thousands of people festively fire their handguns into the air?
Some around Christmas:
The oasis in the barrio at night.
Abandoned or neglected? At the Daum home, it’s hard to tell. Here is the top of the driveway, complete with vine covered basketball hoop and the letters “O” an “K” from an old Coke sign.
This inch wide crack, along with the buckling of the floor inside my room are likely indicators of the wall tumbling down in the future.
A room in the basement.
The haunted stairwell and childhood mud hand print on the door.
Everyone else’s cats suck. This is the best one in the world.
Outside at my friends holiday party.
Inside the massive party. Now a family tradition of 20 years. OMFG.
The Magic Garden: cardboard, mystery liquids, and time. This picture was taken in the middle of the crystals growing.
My old high school, closed for construction.
The State Fair grounds and ferris wheel.
No better time than the holidays to jump on the tramp. Not pictured: kick-ass flips.