It’s 8:40 in the evening, Bonnie is driving the convertible back home to Arkansas, and the sun is setting to our left. The sky is full of blues and pinks. Some are light and easy, some heavy and deep. With each passing moment they seem to change, as my mood does. It’s the first time I’ve blogged in daylight in I don’t remember when, the only time I’ve blogged in the car, and I’m working on saying goodbye to Austin–for now. It’s harder than I imagined it would be. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it means I’m meant to be there, wearing tank tops, eating tacos, and breaking a sweat in the Texas sun–comfortably–in my own skin.
Yesterday Bonnie and I window shopped for Annie’s Pilates studio. We got a lot done, but we spent as much time goofing off as anything else. We’re probably the exact reason that some stores tell you not to take pictures, not to touch the pretty things, not to sit on the furniture. Take the picture of me and the cactus at the top of the blog, for instance. (We come as a set–wouldn’t the two of us look great in your living room?) Or take this picture (like Bonnie did).
On a related note–I don’t know if I’ve ever said this–I’d like to thank my parents for spending all that money for braces to fix my teeth. I’m sure you could have used the cash to–I don’t know–pay the mortgage. But I want you to know it makes a difference every day, and I’m especially thankful for my straight teeth every time I hold a giant magnifying glass in front of my mouth.
Here’s a picture we took at Pier 1. It’s sexy, I know. Very Pinocchio meets Mardi Gras.
After Pier 1, we went to Target, and we found the most amazing thing. We were in the home decor section, and there were a ton of individual block letters–the kind with multiple light bulbs inside each one. My first thought was to rearrange them, maybe spell my name. But then Bonnie and I noticed that someone had already done that. Well, they didn’t spell my name. Rather, on the first row they had spelled DICK, and on the second, MALL.
First, how creative–and naughty–is that? Second, where is this place? I mean, I love to shop, but I didn’t realize this was a thing you could shop for. (If it is, I wonder if they ever have a Buy One, Get One sale.) Anyway, it gets better. The picture doesn’t show it, but the third row spelled OOOH. So put those three words together–DICK MALL, OOOH–and you really have endless hours of entertainment if you just play around with how low, high, fast, or slow you say OOOH. I realize it may not be everyone’s sense of humor (maybe you would have had to have been there), but try it sometime.
After a hard day of window shopping (at the Dick Mall–see how this works?), we went to Torchy’s Tacos. Apparently it was good enough for President Obama, and it was good enough for me too. I’m pretty sure the taco on the left was called The Democrat. I know one of them was, but the left would make more sense.
When tacos were over, we checked out a used clothing store. I didn’t buy anything, but I had fun trying stuff on. My favorite items were a shirt that said Texas with a picture of the Lonestar, and a pair of polka-dotted pants that were so tight I had to sit down on the floor to get them over my heels. They might seem pretty loud, but I guarantee you that no one in Austin would have even noticed them unless they were on fire, and had they fit, I’d be wearing them right now.
And no, I’m not sure they weren’t women’s pants, but I did find them in the men’s section. I swear. As a thirteen-year-old boy told me once at summer camp, “Boys, girls–what’s the difference these days?”
This afternoon Bonnie and I went for breakfast tacos at an iconic Austin restaurant called Maria’s. I was too busy eating to take many pictures, but I did take this one. It says, “No zapatos [no shoes]–no tacos. No pants–no problem!”
No pants, no problem! I mean, this is my kind of town. Bonnie and I just looked at each other and said–
This afternoon was more window shopping, more window shopping. In anticipation of blogging on the road tonight, I left my phone, which I use as a hotspot, at the apartment to charge. So I didn’t take a picture of any of the amazing mid-century modern furniture we saw, or the crumbled beer can I saw in a lamp store that said, “I got smashed in Las Vegas.”
Our last meal in Austin was at a place called Gourdough’s, and it was perfect. Most of their items include donuts, and all their items have fun names, like Saussy Cock, Boss Hog, and Drunken Hunk. My meal was called Mother Clucker, and it was friend chicken–on a doughnut!–with melted honey butter. I took one look at it and told the waitress, “I’m going to need a side of insulin.”
You can be weird here. You can be yourself.
Now it’s ten-thirty, and the sky is dark. My laptop illuminates my side of the car. In addition to writing, I’ve been thinking about what I love about Austin. At least for a while, the saying there was, “Keep Austin Weird,” a priority that seems obvious whenever you look around and see a hand-knitted blanket that’s been hung on an overpass as art, a sign that says, “Please remove your spurs before dancing on the table,” or a bathroom door that says, “Whichever.” You look at the people and see a thousand tattoos, bodies of every shape and size, skin exposed, proud and confident. All of it seems to say–you can be weird here–you can be yourself.
In truth I think you can be yourself anywhere, but maybe some places make it easier, give you more space to grow. I’m terrible with plants (they always die), but I’ve seen my aunt move a budding plant from one pot to another because it needed more room. So maybe it’s like that for people too.
There’s a spiritual teacher, Don Miguel Ruiz, who says, “Change as fast as God.” The way I see it, that’s another way of saying, “Be here, now,” or don’t spend so much time thinking about the fact that you’re not in Austin that you forget to enjoy where you actually are. So as I leave Austin and head back to Arkansas, I intend to soak up every bit of good that life has to offer me there. Still, even now, it’s as if Austin’s calling, “Come back. Come back real soon. And stay. We’re weird here. You’ll fit right in.”
Quotes from CoCo
"Sickness and health come and go, just like everything else. It's just the way life is."