I have gained ten pounds, give or take, since moving to Dallas in November. This has several causing factors, including a 20-fold increase (at least) of my annual consumption of Tex-Mex cuisine, a decrease in the necessity for running for a train in 3-inch heels several times a day, a Texas-sized refrigerator right upstairs from my work-at-home office, and an overall lessening of hourly stress (like trying to dodge tourists around Rockefeller Center). Thankfully, as my Texan so eloquently puts it, the weight “is in all the right places,” supposedly. Still, when you’re used to feeling lighter on your feet, the extra pounds can inspire you to make a few changes.
The last time I was in a gym was 2004. But in my ongoing quest to relax and get both my body and mind healthier now that I’ve left the big bad big apple, I decided to take a mere two block stroll from my new house and try yoga for the first time in my life. I always had real excuses not to try yoga before: no time, no money, the logistics of getting to a studio using public transportation, too much work to do, and a simple lack of necessity in my logical mind. But like everything else in relation to my move down here, the obstacles all moved aside in one cohesive sweep and a path was cleared for my next step in my journey of new Texan self-discovery.
It feels good. I stretch and challenge muscles I was never aware of before. It is a warm – literally- and welcome environment, as peaceful and full of positive energy as I’ve come to expect after years of pop culture exposure to the practice. The instructors at Gaia Flow Yoga are amazingly patient, making sure that even the most novice of their students (me) is learning and growing at their (my) level of ability. What I am learning goes so much further than the physical, however. I am learning to relax, I am learning to take time for myself, and I am learning to balance, in all areas of my life.
This past Friday was much like some of my favorite spring evenings in Manhattan. On Oak Lawn Avenue we enjoyed an early and light dinner at the utterly charming Parigi, a restaurant owned by one of my new favorite people in Dallas, Chef Chad Houser, and his lovely partner Janice Provost, who as luck would have it was behind the bar that night. As it was early, we only dined on a few chef-recommended appetizers, but they were all perfect. Janice helped us to pair wines with our meal and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of staff and fellow patrons immensely.
Unfortunately we had to move on, but for good reason. We had, courtesy of a dear friend, tickets to the TITAS Command Performance La Fête du Ballet. Sitting in the orchestra of the beautiful Winspear Opera House later that evening, we sat in awe as some of the world’s most celebrated and accomplished dancers perform. The classical pieces were gorgeous, but MOMIX’s Millennium Skiva impressed even my Texan, and TUU featuring Steven Ezra Marshall and Rebecca Rasmussen, moved me to tears. The entire evening was pure elegance. We gasped and applauded in distinguished appreciation and amazement.
On Saturday I drove (which, as an ex-New Yorker I am still learning how to do) north to Allen for another dinner and another show. And it could not have been more of a contrast. It was raining, so we parked and ducked into the first restaurant that would have us, the adorable Cotton Patch Cafe. My 3-year old daughter colored her place mat and drank her chocolate milk while I contemplated the amount of butter in the basket of bread placed on our table. It wasn’t exactly a Manhattan crowd, to say the least, but it was warm and it was cozy and the service was sweet. After dinner we crossed the street and spent the next two hours watching the Allen Americans hockey team defeat the Missouri Mavericks 4-3 at the Allen Event Center with family and old friends. Hockey players fought on the ice. Young local girls danced during halftime with the Ice Angels. The mascot Biscuit and Ronald McDonald posed for photos with little (and big) fans. We clapped, we cheered, we rang cowbells. It was fun.
It is the poignant juxtaposition of the two evenings that I found fascinating. Friday was black satin and a low chignon, champagne and single malt scotch. Saturday was cotton denim and a ponytail, popcorn and domestic beer out of a can.
Both evenings were wonderful. Both were needed. Both were Dallas.
It is less and less surprising to me how relaxed I find people here to be. Relaxed and healthy. And I realize that it is due to the balance that you, we, have here. We can get all of the extremes that we want but if we look for it, running down the center, through our core, is a beautiful balanced life of art and comfort, elegance and fun, culture and family, work and rest.