So long, and thanks for all the Lone Star tallboys
I spent 7 years in Pittsburgh, another in Detroit, and now just shy of 7 years I'm leaving Austin. That's as lucky a number as any, although it feels like an incredibly short time in a city that grows and changes as rapidly as this one. But ultimately, the exciting stuff in this town suits young people who go out a lot, tech-libertarians, people who aren't yet sick of Texas's inability to "do" public transit, and the sort of day drinkers who've always occupied the Town of Linklater Films.
At least, I'll probably continue telling myself that indefinitely.
But there's a lot of truth there — it really is tough when you have a young child to even imagine enjoying the fruits of a town known for its nightlife, and eventually you start to wonder if that's really for you anymore. As a musician, it's hard to always play for nobody or to keep pace with the younger, better looking indie-poppers filling up the increasingly snobby and hard-to-book venues. As a person who tries to have some perspective, sometimes taking a step back you realize how much Austin is clinging to its fun slacker persona, even as it gets big enough that it really could stand to clean up its act maybe just a little before it loses everything that people love about it.
This isn't about how "Austin has changed, man"; That was old even when I moved here. Of course places change and that's part of what makes a town ok to continue living in more than 7 years. But I'm not a lone wolf slacker musician, I'm now some kind of "family man" (imposter syndrome doesn't just work at your job) and that is a super rewarding part of my life that's taking me away from the both the eye-rolling mustachioed coolness I'm so over and the merciless, dash-cracking sunshine I love so much. So yeah, there is a flipside.
I wasn't too great at making friends until moving here. I've become more social and worked in an office again, so I'm leaving behind maybe the closest, coolest bunch of people ever — people who, I'd like to think, "get" me.
I'm not exactly headed to unstable territory now, but if I'm being real it's difficult to leave behind 75-degree winters, constant restaurant openings, or that slight swell of pride when even a big city slicker's eyes brighten at the mention of where you live. It's even harder to leave those friends I've worked with, played music with, or lived next to. Having them all gather at a party for us yesterday was beyond cool — it was downright humbling that that many people care enough (A friend called the beautiful weather "one last kick in the nuts").
Now... It's not in the least bit hard to leave constant traffic, lines to sit in literally every one of those restaurants, or the Texas government, none of which are gonna go anywhere anytime soon. And I could do without the hypocritical faux-liberals who nod sagely about how we need affordable housing and mass transit, but then get all predictably NIMBY when it comes time to do something.
But rather than dwell on what great things I'm leaving or bemoan the bad ones, I think it'd be more productive to commit yesterday's laughs and hugs to memory, give thanks for the all that's happened to me here, and think of what other positive stuff lies ahead.
I know I'm going to a culturally rich, meteorogically mild place with incredibly friendly people, and my new commute is going to add hours to my week (time) and probably years to my life (I-35 stress). But that's just the beginning. Now that I'm a little better at life than I was seven years ago, my hope is that I can create an even more amazing one there.
If this is me in the "Before" picture, look for the "After" soon. And at least check out my Instagrams from the road.