Hello, I am writing to you from Austin, this week. I have two different friends from California that now call Texas home and I’m privileged to get to guest-bed-hop between the two.
First up is my friend Holly. She is a mom to three adorable kiddos with her husband, Joel. They also have two super-cute brindle pitties that, back in California, made me reevaluate my childhood fear of the breed. Ten years later, they’re now more of a brindle gray but they’re still sweet. One of them whines more than I remember but Holly says she thinks that as he’s gone deaf in his old age he can’t hear himself, so is extra loud. I found that explanation reasonable and exceptionally charming.
Most folks come to Austin for the music scene. And, I’m right there with them with tickets to Austin City Limits (ACL) on Sunday. However, I suspect the Austin YMCA Barre Class is not usually on the top ten list of visitors. But, they’re missing out.
I was very clear with Holly that I wanted her to do what she’d normally do and just let me tag along. So, we picked up the kids from school, we visited a park with friends, we played magnets before dinner, we brushed our teeth and read books before bed. We gabbed with neighbors in the street while the kids swapped bicycles. We brainstormed the perfect toy to bring for “sight” day and “smell” day at school. I got to be a fly on the wall of an awesome little family. Perhaps it’s because I have been trained by 14 nieces and nephews or perhaps it’s due to my own child-like personality, but the kids have taken to me. It’s totally undeserved but totally, totally appreciated.
As I mentioned earlier, my ACL tickets are for Sunday and I’ve been most excited to see Arctic Monkeys. However, one of Holly’s friends offered her two free tickets to see Paul McCartney. (!!!!!!) What a showman. And I don’t just mean ‘at his age’ but seriously, the man rocks. My only regret is that, at one point, we were right up by the front of the stage. We walked back for me to get a beer so ended up watching the show farther back. Maybe I need to reflect on my priorities?
Anyway, after the show, we waited 45 minutes for an Uber that kept saying “8 minutes away.” Clearly, the Uber-designated pick-up and drop-off spot was not the ideal approach. I noted it for Sunday and slept soundly that night knowing I had been in the presence of a living legend. I’m sure Paul did too, having known we were in the audience. 😉
The weather in Austin is incredible and lured me out for a run one morning. I was craving a latte so Holly suggested I visit SummerMoon, a trailer in the parking lot of a church, surrounded (at this season) by a pumpkin patch. This charming place is what Instagram dreams are made of — and the coffee was superb, too. The barista told me they make their own condensed milk that’s super sweet. Later, Holly told me she had heard it’s just melted ice cream. Whatever it is, it’s delicious. However, I could only bring myself to order the quarter-moon latte which is ¼ of the good stuff and ¾ non-fat milk. The result was a drink that had “¼ Josie” written on my cup. There was something that pleased me so much about that. Maybe it’s because I was feeling more 100% myself than I had in a long time. Or, it was the combination of runner’s high and melted ice cream?
Up next, was my dear friend, Jen. She and I met at St. Augustine’s church in Oakland. She thinks deeply and speaks straight from her heart with great compassion. I always feel like I talk differently for awhile after a visit with her. In the same way that some folks pick up accents (aka: me) I feel like I pick up Jen’s gentle inquiry techniques and gracious sharing of observations and insights. I’d say it’s from her training at Harvard Divinity School or the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union but I suspect its an innate character trait. And I love it.
On Sunday morning I went to Mass at a local parish in the heart of University of Texas campus. There were motorized scooters everywhere. I hadn’t yet tried one but given my delayed departure, the muggier than expected weather, and the distance left to walk, I decided to sign up and scoot to church.
It was great!
Well, it was actually sort of nerve-wracking to go 15 mph sans helmet next to cars and buses. Not to mention the other scooter drivers that were potentially as inexperienced as me. Maybe it’s because I was heading to Mass, I was granted safety and mostly enjoyed the experience. After mass, I unlocked another and headed back to Jen’s. However, later that day when we left, I felt a tinge of guilt nobody had yet booked the scooter and it sat in front of her apartment all day. But, the next day it was gone so I guess the system is working.
That afternoon was ACL and, informed by my Friday night lessons, we opted for Lyft and a different entrance. We arrived at the festival without much challenge. The fairgrounds were packed and while we had a great time, Arctic Monkeys didn’t perform many of the classics I love. Oh, well. Still a fun experience with great company.
The next morning, the weather changed dramatically. Jen and I had been in summer attire for the concert. But less than 12 hours later, Austin was experiencing torrential rain (that even caused flooding in some of the northern low-lying areas) and, get this, 50 degrees. I had not signed up for that chilly nonsense. But, I had a lunch date and the restaurant was only a 3-minute walk away. Too bad my motorized scooter was no longer out front.
I arrived wet and trembling to Trudy’s Tex-Mex and indulged in a large lunch, ostensibly as an act of warmth. I was meeting up with another old friend, Shannon. We had worked together in Miami during my days at the legendary advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Both of us regard our time there as a master class in advertising. It was fun reminiscing, however, we were early 20-somethings then and are late 30-somethings now. That meant we also spent part of our lunch talking about kids, housing prices in Austin, and mentoring our junior counterparts. Weird. We also discussed the infamous “Mexican Martini” that was on happy hour at Trudy’s. She explained it’s basically a martini with tequila or a margarita with olive juice. Sold and sold. Except that we aren’t on Mad Men and she needed to get back to work after lunch.
I am a firm believer that a trip should never be ‘complete.’ There should always be at least one activity or experience left undone. It’s what ensures the wanderlust bug remains alive and well, luring you to return. The Mexican Martini is my unchecked box on the Austin To Do list, meaning Holly and Jen may have their guest bedrooms occupied again, soon.