An occupational hazard of having a column of your very own – and with a fairly long leash – is the temptation, just once in a while, to write about something a little self–indulgent. In this case, I’m announcing to about 75,000 of my close personal friends my impending marriage on October 15.

The great English lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson once said (tongue in cheek, I would like to think) that a second marriage was “the triumph of hope over experience.” Being a hopeful sort myself, I’ll soon be putting Dr. Johnson’s adage to the test.

My intended, Patti Williams, is from Tyler, the largest city in East Texas, population about 75,000, and about 90 miles east of Dallas.Patti grew up there, and still has most of her extended family there. While I know that Patti is looking forward to having a lot more time to take advantage of everything the Dallas area has to offer in the way of museums, theater, music, restaurants and the rest, I also know that the move will be an adjustment for her. Leaving the very familiar, a little more geographical distance from her family, navigating around a new and larger city – and, most daunting of all, the traffic – are challenges, but ones I know she will adapt to.

Knowing all of that, we both feel very strongly about making our home in East Dallas. I’m already sold on it, of course, and as she has become more acquainted with it, so has Patti. It’s really the best ofboth worlds here – very close to big city amenities, but with a homey, small–town atmosphere. Just driving down the streets lined with Craftsman bungalows, Tudor cottages and towering trees, you feel that you are somewhere with a real “sense of place,” secure and comfortable with itself and seeing no need for pretense or putting on airs. Of course, I know I’m preaching to the choir, since the great majority of you reading this right now are, by definition, East Dallas and Lakewood residents. After all, if you had wanted to live in Plano, you probably would already have been there by now.

When I moved back to Dallas in 1980 after finishing school, I had just come off a stint of living in the Hyde Park section of Austin, a historic neighborhood just north of the UT campus that looks remarkably like Old East Dallas.After a couple of years in an apartment near Northwest Highway, I “discovered” East Dallas, started spending more and more time here, and soon after moved in. Not only the architecture and the big trees, but the sense of community, the open–mindedness, diversity and eclectic tastes of East Dallasites reminded me of Austin.Actually,this wasn’t my first time living in East Dallas – the first Dallas address I ever had (at about age four) was on Longview Street, and I spent a lot of time in the intervening years in the area.

I think that it’s no accident that East Dallas appears to have more than its share of artists, writers, musicians, theater people, college professors, community activists and lots of other creative and independent types who seem to be drawn to our neighborhoods’ lived–in good looks, and welcoming and open atmosphere. Most important of all, it’s a place where someone, either brand new to Dallas or here for a long time, can feel at home as part of a neighborhood and a community, with an environment where you can try your best to raise children with values not overwhelmed by conspicuous consumption. We’ll look forward to being here for quite a while.

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