Jackson, Mississippi is home for me now, but Dallas, Texas is Home. Like many Homes for many citizens, I had to flee. Mimi Swartz, a Texan who lived in the Big D from 1988 to 1991 (on Mercedes, about eight blocks north of my ancestral home on Richmond Avenue), returns after a long absence. Much has changed and much, alas, has not:
I approached my sentimental favorite, NorthPark Center, with trepidation. I shouldn’t have worried: the Nasher family artwork collection, including Andy Warhol, Jim Dine and Frank Stella, was still showing Neiman’s in its best light, along with newer stores like Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Oscar de la Renta and Intermix. (Khajak Keledjian, a co-owner of Intermix, used to watch Dallas as a kid in Beirut, so when it came time to expand, he had a soft spot for Texas.) I was greeted like a long-lost relation. Way back in the ’60s, Joan Didion described a woman she had met in Dallas who was “charming and attractive” and “accustomed to the hospitality and hypersensitivity of Texas.” That’s still true at NorthPark, and it’s still true of the city at large: Dallas needs to be appreciated by the larger world, a characteristic that will always separate it from bigger, burlier American cities.
She’s a woman after my own heart. NorthPark is my favorite place to take a stroll as well, and it’s the one place I make a point of visiting whenever I’m in town. So, let’s clarify. I’ve got more of a sentimental attachment to a glitzy, artsy, extremely high-end shopping mall than I do to the Dallas Museum of Art or the I.M. Pei-designed Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall. I guess it’s true: You can take the man out of Dallas, but you can’t take the Dallas out of the man.
The article’s worth a read.