Michael Ryan

A newcomer’s case for Fort Worth

When my wife and I were first married, we each wrote down our “bucket list” of places we most wanted to visit.

I recently ran across that list in the process of moving here. I’d forgotten this, but the Fort Worth area was one of the places I wrote down.

So no one had to sell me on moving here.

But an even newer-comer recently asked me what I’d say to sell someone else on the idea. It led to a Trinity River-length stream of consciousness about all Fort Worth has to offer. And I don’t even know the half of it.

My first answer was the people.

In the 1920s, Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler charted the characteristics of people by birth order — and the first trait of a youngest child is “highly social.” That’s me. And that’s Fort Worth. I enjoy exchanging pleasantries with passersby, and in Fort Worth you’re not regarded as nutty for it. I like that.

Another test of a community’s friendliness is how long it takes for someone to help you find your way once they see the dazed look on your face. In Fort Worth, that time can be measured in seconds.

In only my second week here, I was invited to a monthly social gathering and was made to feel as welcome as the Publishers Clearing House folks on a front porch. You have to have lived in numerous places or been the new kid in school to truly comprehend how special that is.

That’s just the social climate. The natural one isn’t too bad either. True, we were urged to bring sensitive plants inside this weekend — but in Bismarck, N.D., they brought their sensitive people indoors.

Then there’s the food. I’d visited the Fort Worth area five times over the years — or, as you already know if you’re keeping count, a total of four times more than necessary to figure out how phenomenal the cuisine is. If there’s better food on Earth I don’t want to know about it, because who needs the temptation?

Then there’s the affordability. There are cheaper places to live, but there are a ton more expensive. And the cheaper places don’t have all that Fort Worth offers.

Then there’s what I’d call the area’s livability: the museums, the music, the big-time and even high-school sports, the amusement parks, the Trinity Trails — and the fact that so many great neighborhoods are within a comfortable commute to downtown.

Oh yeah. Downtown. This one is right up there.

Even with all these amenities, Fort Worth still has a hometown feel — which is all the more remarkable when you consider what a cultural crossroads the region has become. This is where the Midwest, South, West, Southwest and south of the border all meet for dinner.

Is all this boosterism? Maybe. But it’s the truth, as seen through a newcomer’s eyes. And like Paul McCartney asked when challenged about writing Silly Love Songs, what’s wrong with that? Besides, do you know how many towns and cities have inferiority complexes and how many residents trade disparaging nicknames for their hometowns?

With some 20,000 new residents a year, Fort Worth doesn’t need my help selling it. But on the off-chance that someone does require the pitch, just clip this column out and send it to them.

Maybe wrapped around some Texas brisket.

Michael Ryan is Opinion Editor of The Star-Telegram.