Dallas, Texas.

Everything seemed to change once we hit the state of Texas. Endless farm land, wild skies, and a pace as slow as a Texan drawl. Everything really is bigger in Texas … whether they like it or not. Billboards featuring weight reduction surgeries fill in the spaces between the 8-lane freeways and the glitzy skyscrapers built during the 1980s energy boom. We pulled into the city after driving 11 hours from Sante Fe to an epic lightning storm only to have to unload a stocky van filled with designer clothes in the torrential rain. 

The next day we set out to scout Southfork Ranch, the actual mansion where the legendary 1980s TV series, Dallas, was filmed. I had pulled a photo of it simply as a mood board reference, but when we learned it was still intact and available to rent, we were ready to throw our hats over the windmill. Of course Cadillacs, long horns, and the t-bone steaks are extra big in Dallas, but as we learned from interacting with the caretakers of the ranch, so are the hearts. As if having free reign to photograph in an immaculately-styled, vintage movie set wasn’t satisfying enough, our quick stint to the Big D resulted in an impromptu reunion with two pals I haven’t seen in over 21 years. My old pal, Howie’s, lovely and ambitious wife, Kate, was one of our subjects. After the shoot the two of them and another high school pal, Rory, joined us at our Airbnb for a whirl down memory lane. It was such a cool experience to reunite with these now grown men who shared in some of the most formative years of my life. Rory reminded me that we were both nominated “Most likely to be Talk Show Hosts” in our senior year book, and while I always dismissed the award, associating it with the sensationalism of Jerry Springer or the red-spectacled tabloid queen, Sally Jesse Raphael, he fully embraced it. Rory perceived it as a an acknowledgment of his social and communication skills and his ability to listen with sincerity and empathy. His perception seems both sane and accurate. Damn! I wish I had believed this 20 years ago; I could have been Holly Jesse Raphael. -Holly

Olivia Simons, 26
(from Dallas)

“I work in a female-dominated industry, so I don’t ever feel held back at work just for being a woman. The lag is in the dating world. It’s considered weird and uncomfortable when I am as direct with the men I date as I am with the people I work with.”

Kate Reed, 32
(from Dallas)

“Often, when I see friends I knew from growing up — ones who may only know me now from my social-media presence — usually the first few questions are ‘What does your husband do?’ or ‘Wow, your husband must do well.’ Others may ask friends about my partner’s occupation — while never really considering that I have my own independence financially because of the path I took to be where I am today. I often find myself wondering why the same people who post about ‘equality in 2017’ still have a jaded view of mutual success.”