It is time for me to leave Austin and return to the driveway. I have had a great time here, and I am sad to leave. But as Tracey Chapman would sing, “Leave tonight or live and die this way.”
Besides, it is my honor to see my Mom through her cataract surgery….if she will go peaceably, and not resist arrest. 😉 If there was ever any question about where I get my independent, hard headed, self reliant streak, look no further….
The driveway is certainly a convenient parking place. My brother Don “hooked me up” with a 30amp plug. And just across the sidewalk are unlimited steamy hot showers, 900 cable channels, and something usually simmering on the stove. But the best part is the gratitude that I feel for living with six wheels under me, because I can leave again. The driveway is surrounded on three sides by constant barking dogs. First up is the chained blonde lab that starts barking at 7am until her owner gets home from the public school at 4:00pm. Next comes the after-work shift when people are out walking their dogs, so the nervous chihuahuas across the back alley get cranked up until dark. Then at night, the wild dog next door with the freakish light green eyes takes over until 4am with a scream so troubling that I have nicknamed him “The Terrorist.” From 4am to 7am, the dogs finally go quiet…..just in time for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe to come rolling through, blaring the horn from one end of town to the other to alert all the traffic flowing across the tracks at 4am in a 5,000 resident town. Welcome back to Hooterville.
Here are my conclusions from my two week stay in Austin:
#1. Austin is still “awesome.”
You can’t go much more than two sentences into a conversation without hearing that overly-used word. The generational differences are never more evident than when I need a “hair refresh” in a trendy part of town where every salon is vying for “Austin’s Most Awesome!” My heavily tattooed, nose-ringed stylist insists on finding common ground on which to we can make small talk. Attempts to discuss concerns surrounding the impending “Zombie Apocalypse” are a non-starter.
#2. I am a Fair Weather Fitness Fan
It is near impossible to have any kind of full-timers fitness routine in a winter like we are having in Texas. Although I set my intentions to walk 10,000 steps per day, it really was challenging. I skipped it altogether on days that dropped down below 35, as I just don’t have the clothing for the kind of weather where the wind seeps through my two layers of fleece like they were cheesecloth. If it has been this tough in a fun city like Austin where every place is so “walkable,” then I don’t hold out much hope for the next few weeks in the driveway.
#3. I miss my Mini-Me!
I didn’t bring the Tracker this trip, because I was only going to be here for two weeks, and besides, Austin is “so walkable!” Right…..If you’re a polar bear. I brought my bike with me, thinking I would ride every day, but with the blustery wind, that turned out to be only three days. There were a lot of times when I wished I could just go jump in the “toad” and do what I needed to do, without having to put on 3 layers of clothing and wind proofing my skin! My conclusion is, it is worth the pain in the ass to hook and unhook. So from now on, we are a trio act.
# 4. I don’t need “Her” to tell me it’s “Burrrr!”
I went to see the movie “Her” with Joaquin Phillips, about the futuristic guy wearing high-waisted pants who falls in love with “Samantha,” his operating system. I joked beforehand with one of my friends that I was somewhat reluctant to see the movie for fear it too closely resembled my own “social life in a laptop.” Sure enough, it was pretty creepy. When I awoke the next morning and asked Siri, “What’s the temperature outside?” she answered in a low, soft whisper, “Burrrrrr!” It was almost creepy enough to make me want to switch to Android.
#5. If you live long enough…
If you live long enough, especially if much of that time is spent in a liberal University town, you will eventually start to witness signs of the evolution of our species. I learned a new word while I was here in Austin this time. “Polyamory.” Like polygamy without the promises or paperwork. It appears to be catching on among the young, and I can’t say I disagree with the concept. I have been asked in the past my thoughts on Gay marriage. Hell, after my own eight years of “Hell for Heteros” I can’t even condone traditional marriage! I would like to think the union of two souls happens at a much higher level than the courthouse. It will be interesting to see where this new movement in our society evolves…
So as I close my window overlooking Pecan Grove for the last time this morning on what is a quintessential spring day in Austin (why is the best day always departure day??) I feel sad to leave. On one hand, it is one of the few places that feels right. But that’s only in my head, not my heart. Too many reminders of redirected intentions. Graduates with journalism degrees cutting hair. PhDs waiting tables. A nutrition major turned nomad. And a painful reminder of “which one of these is not like the others” as I (like) listen to the (like) “awesome!” conversations around me. I have more in common with the hobos keeping warm at the McDonalds than I do with the Hipsters buying $8.99 half-gallons of orange juice at the Whole Foods.
It’s not my town anymore…it belongs to “The Awesome.”