Goodbye Dallas

Today I leave Dallas.

The three years I lived here weren’t especially fancy.  I arrived a 24-year-old, and now I am 27.  I graduated from seminary with a Master’s in Biblical Counseling.  I traveled to three new states.  I got a tattoo.

But the most significant memories are subtler.  I lived with six women who taught me, laughed with me, and let me rant about gender roles in the church.  I nannied two children who adored my silliness.  I learned from professors who deepened my understanding of my identity as person made in the image of God.  I attended a church that taught me to depend upon weekly Communion and the grace of God.

I think, though, that the biggest change that has happened in Dallas has been my emotional growth due to my time spent in counseling.  I attended 20 individual sessions, and my primary goal was to learn to be vulnerable, especially when it came to showing sadness and anger.  I grew a lot during those sessions, but mostly I intellectualized myself away from really sharing how I felt.  I never cried in front of my counselor.

I attended 8 group counseling sessions, and my world broke open.  I opened up about some really hard feelings, cried (and apologized for crying) in front of my peers, and heard, “Before, I just thought you were ‘nice,’ but I didn’t really know you.  Now you’re a real person.  I like you more because you let yourself cry.”  That was the first time I cried in front of someone since high school, I think.

Yesterday, my church commissioned me for my time in Greece.  Our elders laid hands and prayed for me and several other men and women going on mission trips.  I hugged my church family goodbye, and immediately teared up.  “I didn’t want to cry!” I said.  The person I hugged happened to be a counselor.  “Why don’t you want to cry?” he asked.  “No, don’t do that!” Another friend came up and hugged me.  She’s tall, so I got to bury my face in her shoulder and sob a little.  And she’s emotionally healthy, so she cried with me.  When we made watery eye contact, she told me, “Your tears are precious.”

I cried a lot yesterday.  I said goodbye to dear friends that I consider family.  I ate, laughed, and hugged.  And now I’m leaving.  But my tears are precious, because they mean that Dallas mattered.  I had so much fun here.  I’ll miss this place, and my time here, deeply.  And I’ll be back.

Tricia Goes Two Stepping

I have two friends in Dallas who are too cool for me.  Stephanie and Candice actually go out on weekends, and I usually beg off because I’m working late, watching Netflix, or reading a new book.  But since my time in the great state of Texas is running out, I agreed to go two stepping with them.  This would allow me to do two things:  hang out with friends in their natural habitat and experience a distinctly Texan entertainment.

IMG_4318Stephanie loaned me her cowboy boots, since I never did buy a pair during my three years here.  The night of the two stepping, I stared at my feet, trying to imagine I felt normal in them.  Nope.  I felt like I was playing dress up.

Ten minutes after she was supposed to meet me, Lindsay texted and asked, “Can I bring Shipley??”  Shipley is her golden retriever, famous for calming anxious minds.  “Only if I can bring Rory,” I responded, since the idea of dancing with strangers was also making me crave some cuddle-time with my cat.

We arrived at the two stepping dance hall, and I froze.  “Are we…do we dance in that??” I asked.  There was an oval wooden track in the center of the massive room, with a bar and tables in a lowered middle section and counters and tables surrounding it on the outside.  Everyone was always looking at everyone on the dance floor.  Continue reading