Last week I celebrated my third year in Austin.
Well, actually, it kind of came and went without me even noticing. You see, Austin has become home. I no longer view it as this animate object that swept me up into it's arms and saved me—I just simply live in it now. I'm an Austinite. I have a 512 phone number and I wear pearl snap shirts.
I used to romanticize a lot about Austin. Hell, I even drunk dialed her frequently. She was this near-mythical land to me, where hopes and dreams came true. "The Land of Enchantment," I thought (but some state already took that title). I moved to Austin and my hopes and dreams did come true—and now I simply live them.
I kind of miss those days of nostalgia. The honeymoon period hasn't really worn off, but I don't go out into the city as often as I used to. Austin is growing and becoming more popular and I'm getting older—I don't like dealing with crowds or traffic or parking. Three years doesn't sound like a lot of time but, even being a relative newbie, I've seen a lot of changes in this city, too.
These past three years have felt like a lifetime. I had my second coming of age here and I feel like some internal acknowledgement of that time should be made.
So, I guess it all started with David Byrne? It always does, really.
After leaving my career in Hollywood, I spent some time wandering L.A. trying to get myself mentally prepared for my big escape. I had no plan in mind other than driving to Austin, Texas, so getting myself to commit to the decision to leave was difficult and scary. Getting myself to commit to anything at 25 was difficult.
I tried to leave once but didn't get very far. I made it as far as the end of the street before I had to pull over and tend to my panic attack. While doing my best "Rainman" impression in the driver's seat, I quickly came to the conclusion that now wasn't the right time to leave. A few months went by in LA and I read that my favorite musician, artist and thinker, David Byrne, would be playing the first day of ACL. I never missed an opportunity to see him and what better way to introduce myself to my new home than through David Byrne serenading "This Must be the Place" to me?
So I drove into town on the exact day that Byrne would play. I paid $10 to park at the Long Center (because I didn't know any better) and drove to the top of the parking garage. I took a moment to assess the skyline, my surroundings, my new home. I walked into Zilker Park, watched my idol play, walked out, and set out to start my life in Austin.
This year at ACL I didn't park my car at the Long Center: I biked like an Austinite. As I trudged through the park, I never took the opportunity to think about all that I've accomplished since moving here, the full circleness of it all. I came here to start my journey and I've never looked back.
I found my love in Austin. A man I thought only existed in my head, the fictional love interest to my semi-autobiographical, slightly solitary female protagonist. One day he just appeared. I wrote a movie here in Austin, something I went to school for and moved to L.A. for and never accomplished until now. I became a freelance writer here. A goal I set out to achieve and I did! I still can't believe that at some point in my 20's I actually knew what I wanted to do with my life and started to make tiny achievements towards that goal.
And that's not to say that at a few small points I haven't been disillusioned with the city. Most notably the time a gentleman dumped me because he missed the scenester scene. He missed late nights at the Beauty Bar and gettin' sweaty to DJ music. I was hurt and I was angry. I started to think that all my peers wanted to do was get wasted and party their lives away. When certain friends wanted to hang out, it was all centered around drinking. I hid out, retreated from it all. I became a curmudgeon towards the city until I understood—Austin really is what you make it, not what other people make it. Living in Austin has also come with a price. My family is in NY and CA, two places that aren't in driving distance of Austin. I miss them and I feel guilty being so far away.
I also know that I may not live in Austin forever, though I would be ok with that. "Forever" is such a scary word, isn't it? To say anything is forever seems so permanent. However, I'm not going to worry about that right now. Right now I'm going to put on David Byrne, pick up some migas on my bike, and have a nice little anniversary meal with Austin.