As I sit here in the middle of the student center at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a town just 5 hours North of the city I am still just learning to call home, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about my hometown.
Truth be told, St. Louis is only the second city I’ve willfully committed to, and the first I’ve ever consented to remain in. The Dallas suburb I grew up in was never a place I wanted to settle down. And even though I loved Nashville and moved there because I wanted to, I never really thought I’d live there forever. And truth be told, it wasn’t until I started watching Friday Night Lights, got pregnant and returned to my hometown to take part in a dear friends’ wedding that I started remembering the place so fondly. Home to roughly 32 elementary schools, eight middle schools and five high schools, Mesquite is a bustling, highly commercial suburb that sits 20 minutes East of Dallas proper. The highlights are as follows:
Porter Pond: When you’re under 21 and the conversation starts with “We need to talk.”, you’re probably going to end up at Porter Pond. Located behind an elementary school of the same name, Porter Pond is a small stocked pond with a walking/riding track and a few docks that serves as a local hotspot for kids with fishing poles, adults with weight loss goals, and teenagers with relationship drama.
Chili’s: where do you go for a low key first date when you’re 17? Where do you go after every single football, basketball, baseball or soccer game? Where do you apply to work as soon as you’re old enough to be a hostess? The place like no place else, of course. I can scarcely remember a high school athletic event that didn’t end with a skillet of queso (and someone inevitably stealing the potholder handle to use on their gear shift or blinker.) You can imagine why it was so devastating for everyone in my age demographic when the restaurant burned to the ground earlier this year.
Town East Mall- once a hotspot for this Mesquite landmark has lost some of it’s luster and become more of a gathering place for huge groups of teenagers. If you say it like you’re supposed to, out-of-towners may think you’re saying “Tiny Small”.
Memorial Stadium- filled to the brim every Friday night from August-October, Mesquite’s principal football stadium is home to the State Champion Mesquite Skeeters high school football team (2001) AND the State Champion Poteet Pirate high school marching band (1995, 2005, 2007).
Starbucks on Town East- How can a national coffee chain be such a fixture of this little city known for football, marching band and cowboys? But as you can see, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s an attraction to be noted. (Check out number 10!) The reason this Starbucks is key is because it’s THE place in town you will inevitably run into someone from high school. Mostly because its where EVERYONE meets up when they come back into town. People have broken and rekindled countless romances in that building, met up with long lost friends, said epic goodbyes– shoot, one of my dear friends reserved the whole building after close one night to propose to his girlfriend. (She said yes. 🙂
The Mesquite ProRodeo– It ain’t no joke, y’all. This is Mesquite’s crowing glory and claim to fame. Named Best Rodeo Experience in “Best of Texas 2012”, the Mesquite ProRodeo has been delighting local families with bull riding, barrel racing and other traditional rodeo events for more than 50 years. In middle school, my best friend’s dad worked for Coca-Cola, so we got to go to the rodeo and watch all the fun from the corporate comfort of the Coca-Cola Suite. All I remember was being amazed by Tijuana Stud Poker* and drinking copious amounts of Surge.
I could go on, (and might, tomorrow, but I have to post this before midnight and I’m about of time!) but nuggets like that are why I found myself nearly seven months pregnant, driving my best friend from high school’s mom’s car, listening to the country station (which was playing this song), tearfully reminiscing about what a good time I’d truly had growing up in Mesquite. I won’t be going back to stay, but I must say, it was prime real estate for a relatively idyllic childhood.
*Tijuana Stud Poker, in which four cowboys sit at a table while a bull is set free in the arena. The last cowboy to move from the table wins $400.