Kim Phillips: Original, independent Denton feels like home

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Tim and I are empty nesters. Our kids are living their own lives out in the world now. Still, they come home from time to time, and I understand why.

Home is the place they know and that knows them. They come home to just “be.” They leave their shoes on the floor and put their feet on the coffee table. They sleep in. When they wake, they “veg.” Home is where they are safe. They can be themselves, lay down pretense and pressure, and for a day or a week, truly relax and rest. They return to their lives refreshed and strong, ready to tackle the big old world that when they first tried their wings never knew could wear them out so.

Our kids are lucky. They have an escape hatch when they need it. And don’t we all need that sometimes?

An Austinite named Luke Winkie went on a rant last week about the woes of living in Austin. He pretty much slammed everything about the place, out loud on social media for everyone to hear. Poor Austin for being the brunt of this naysayer’s harangue. And poor Luke Winkie! Unlike my children, he obviously holds nothing but contempt for his home. If you wish to read his rant, Google away. I chose not to post the link in my column because his tirade is “colorful,” not exactly newspaper friendly.

About the same time as Mr. Winkie was pounding Austin, Margaret Ulrich, a team member at a company called Movoto, posted to the social media world a blog called “29 Things You Need To Know About Denton Before You Move There.” Margaret is not a Dentonite. But her blog definitely captures much of the essence of our home, in a really good way.

You can view her blog at http://www.movoto.com/denton-tx/moving-to-denton/.

I don’t claim to be familiar with all that Margaret notes in her perception of Denton. The point is that it is her perception, not mine. It is positive and puts Denton in a good light, but, it is different from the 29 things I might list. And you know what? That is OK. Once again, our differences are what make us Denton.

It is my hope that no Mr. Winkie emerges out of Denton as a result of this story to slander and embarrass us in front of the globe. However, I am not naive enough to believe that 100 percent of us know the real Denton. That negative person is likely out there somewhere. Sadly, the killjoys are typically loud, demanding voices. What a world it would be if positive people were as loud and active.

I saw one of those inspirational posters recently that stated, “If we focus only on the negative things in our lives, we become negative people. Everything, including our conversations, becomes negative. We soon lose our joy and live miserable lives — and it started with our own thinking.” How true! Poor Mr. Winkie has lost his joy, lost his home escape, to his focus on the negative.

I believe there are more Mr. Winkies out there than we would like to think. They are homeless in a sense. They are deeply dissatisfied with the place where they live. They seek solace in other places. For many like him, Denton is a home-like haven.

Though Margaret and I define Denton’s accolades differently, we both identify Denton as a home place. This is the magic of our city. Somehow, we appeal to contrasting ideals that cohabitate happily in this place. We are original. We are independent. The pursuit of originality and independence is embraced. Each of us has the freedom to just “be” here, let down our walls and relax in who we are as individuals. People out there, the Mr. Winkies and many others, want what we have. Our city offers the respite, the sense of home that many are missing in their lives.

Our original, independent spirit welcomes the world-weary to chillax. This is a paramount attraction to visitors. Here they can be themselves without fear, pursue their unique passions, relax with their feet on the coffee table. Here for a day or week, they can be home. Like my kids, they are drawn here for the comfortable, genuineness of a place where they can “be.” I can think of few greater compliments than being the escape, refuge and place like home for the world beyond our city limits.

KIM PHILLIPS is vice president of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Denton Chamber of Commerce. She loves promoting Denton’s original, independent spirit through the city’s sense of place and cast of many characters. She can be reached at kim@discoverdenton.com.


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