Sunday, May 28, 2006


I just got off the phone with my stepfather. I don't think I've called him since moving to Austin. I really enjoy talking to him, just always have too much to say "between the lines;" and in Corpus, most of my phone conversations with him were conducted outside, on the back patio, or the front yard, or the driveway. I have no place to speak in private here.

At least I never go over my minutes anymore.

Today is the second anniversary of Mom's death, and therefore, ironically I suppose, of the rebirth of my relationship with my stepfather. He and I had been estranged for several years when she died. It's a very good thing, your proverbial silver lining, I suppose, that her death brought us together; but it always makes me angry that we didn't do this when she was alive. It would have meant a lot to her.

I was telling him about where I work, and how it's a bit on the sluggish and uninteresting side as far as job duties go. He started trying to comfort me, telling me about how at least the experience I'm getting there will parlay well into other, better jobs; and I had to stop him: But I'm so happy.

I'm so happy.

How long has it been since I felt like this: passionate about what I'm doing, about where I live, where I work, the things I do, the people I see? Up to and including a friendly freaky guy in a Whip-In shirt who stopped me today, as I was walking up Avondale with great music on the iPod, to remark he's always wanted to climb up to the rooftop deck on a house we were passing, and admire the view? I agreed, laughing; we exchanged a few more pleasantries and I went on my way, and I didn't stop smiling for blocks. I love people sometimes.

My stepfather and I ended up talking at length about Austin, about which I am perhaps more passionate than about anything else. We lived here when I was little. I've been to Armadillo World Headquarters several times, you know, to see the ballet, when I was about four years old. My stepfather waxed rhapsodic about students selling bromeliads on MLK, about cheap killer weed, about the Armadillo, about that cute little grocery boutique on Lamar where they were so passionate about the food. "I want to retire to Austin," he said; "I can sell this townhouse at mid-Atlantic prices and get a really nice house there for cheap."

(This is the place where the record-going-SCCRRRRRIITCH sound effect goes.)

I explained to him that real estate pricing in Austin may be fairly comparable to Northern Virginia; he responded that he could just get a place out in suburbia, but I pointed out that soulless suburbs are soulless suburbs no matter where you are, and he so totally does not want to live in Round Rock.

The practical upshot of all this is that I urged and begged and pleaded with him to come visit and get my own passionate tour of my own passionate Austin. Many of the faces have changed; but the spirit is still true. I've never known another town like this. I could never leave it again. If you don't have to deal with the traffic (which I don't) or through-the-roof housing (again, my great good luck, no!) then you are in a perpetual heaven of trees and dogs and cats and friendly neighbors and funky shops and liberal bumper stickers. I'll get him to retire in Travis Heights yet.

Last time we talked I was in Corpus, miserable, stressed, and terrified. Now I'm passionately happy in Austin. Mom would be very pleased. I so wish she could come too.


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