The thing about my family in Dallas is they are family in some sense I never aspired to. They all lived along Hillcrest Avenue the last fifty years. My aunt’s kids went to school close to home and the two boys have lived there again since college though the older one just moved out last week. Partly this is generational but actually they both make a decent living and Dallas is cheap and I could never fucking figure out how they could stand to still live there. (I am very fond of their parents, but.)
So then in a certain state of emotional agitation I think what if MY whole problem is that I can’t figure out how they could stand to have spent so much of their lives so close to home. What if that would have been better, and I would have been nicer, and had some core to my life. It continues overheatedly down that line.
I-35 between Dallas and Austin is a good drive for my particular brand of escape fantasies. The ones that really rescue me in certain moods are the ones about moving to a terrible little town where I don’t know anyone but where you can maybe buy a house for $40k and not do much of anything ever again. I guess escape fantasies are supposed to be nicer?
My friend Jim had what he dauntingly termed a reception for me, people I like a lot though we don’t necessarily keep in touch. We drank a fair number of margaritas and made the old inside jokes about Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, as one does, and afterwards I slipped out for a few minutes to walk around Hyde Park feeling overwhelmed by being there and to get a burrito at Taco Cabana.
I slept terribly. It’s hard to go to sleep the first night in Austin because every time I’ve been there in the long while before, I’ve woken up back in New York, and there is always a fairly not-in-jest fear of that happening, the first night.
(What I’m trying to say is I dream I’m in Austin a lot.)
Saturday was a little Austin tourism, Mount Bonnell for the best view of town from above, Mayfield Park because SURPRISE PEACOXZ.
The strange part was a few hours on South Congress which has turned from a nothing stretch of road to an insane pedestrian mall with people standing in hour-long lines for stuff that used to be no big deal to anyone. We sat outside at Güero’s patio/music space and had Shiners. The local beer, not the face injury.
It was strange to me to be showing Dave my town in a form I completely didn’t recognize. But we walked around Travis Heights which looked about the same as ever and then as we were driving off, I realized we were very early and parked by South First, which also used to be nothing but now feels kind of like parts of Austin as I knew them in the 90s. Much, much quieter.
Oh and we had barbecue at Ruby’s. I had considered a barbecue junket to one of those towns one goes to in order to feel like a barbecue martyr, but we felt more like seeing things in town. Having been a vegetarian when I lived in Texas, I’m not connoisseur, so though I thought it was great, I was nervous my foodier friends would look askance, but then everyone was actually fairly skance about it when I said we’d gone there so I guess it was an ok choice.
I was killing an hour at Half Price Books and they said over the PA “Anne-Marie, your book buy is ready” and I thought “huh, I went to school with an Anne-Marie” or rather it registered rather faintly and then a few minutes later, there she was. We weren’t good friends but unexpectedly running into someone I know is a friendly thing Austin always does for me to say “hey, I still remember you.”
Sometimes around native friends I notice my speech getting a little Texan around the edges which is faintly confounding because it never really was that, but isn’t intentional so I don’t really know, am I supposed to make an effort not to do it?
Austin is still peopled by my people. Everyone says “oh the place is full of Californians” and acts as if it’s diluted somehow, but I still know the people I know, and they haven’t been replaced with Californians. The skyline is different and you see fewer eccentric looking people and South Congress is fucking weird, but it is still my town.