Dear Reader

A novelist friend from the East Coast visited recently. After his morning run, he burst into the kitchen. “What’s with all of this grooming in Dallas?” he asked. “The people are beautiful, the homes are perfect, even the yards are totally manicured.” Though it was only 7 a.m., I was wearing lipstick and had already picked some flowers from the garden. A paper-thin Japanese ceramic plate of berries was sitting on the counter. And I’m not even a Dallas native.

Are we obsessed with appearances? What is with all of the grooming here? We take enormous pride in our homes. We love fashion and enjoy our cars. We are forever redecorating and fixing up our yards.

I might have given my friend the pat answer, something about new money and keeping up with the Hickses. But I don’t think the answer is that simple, because back in the recession—only a couple of decades ago—even the most financially ruined among us groomed our homes and gardens. We dressed with style if not in the newest fashion. Grew flowers, even if—imagine—we had to plant them ourselves.

Dallas has a fascinating relationship with beauty and the visual. We don’t have the natural beauty of oceans or mountains, so we fill in. Human beings crave visual order, symmetry, and drama. In Dallas, to have it, we must create it. I find our preoccupation with beauty deeply poignant.
Berries on a paper-thin ceramic plate, anyone?

Enjoy this issue, and let me hear from you.

 

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