Wow. As of Monday, July 28, 2003 I will have been here in Austin for three years! Wow. That far exceeds my time in North Carolina twice-over. I am impressed.
And what a looooong, strange trip it’s beeeen.
I knew my anniversary was coming up, so tonight I did some light research in my journal and found the date that I moved down here from Texarkana back in 2000. Man, those were glorious days.
After staying up late on that thursday before I moved, I packed everything up, dividing it all up into carloads, prioritizing everything into “I need this to survive”, “I need that when I get a place” and “That’s the rest of my stuff” piles. I loaded the survival pile into my car, loaded it to the gills; I believe I added roughly 500 pounds to the car’s weight with essentials. I then neatly placed everything else into stashes around my bedroom.
After a long and necessary shower, I got dressed, grabbed by backpack, my map, my move money, gave much love to all the cats and the dog, gave a sad wave to my mother who was sleeping before her workday, wiped away some tears, and headed out on the road. It was 2am.
I arrived in Austin around 8am, just in time for Friday Morning Rush Hour. It was hellish and, for some parts, slow, but I knew that if I could make it deep enough into town I could cut over westward from I-35 and reach Lamar. Once I was on Lamar, I knew where I was. Found my way to my friends’ house to find they had already gone to work, so I freshened up a little bit, found a city map, and went to where one of my friends worked. He took a break and we went for coffee.
It was there that I got my first taste of Austin – walking from the ACC campus down 14th street, past a greenbelt, past a feminist bookstore, across Lamar, and on to Einsteins Bagels where, zonked from the driving, the lack of sleep, and the brisk walking in the late-July heat and dazing light, I proceeded to clumsily spill and splash my coffee on the sugar bar. Something hot to drink after all that was a bad idea, but I really needed the caffeine. We grabbed a spot to lean, chatted for a few minutes, and I grabbed my first Austin Chronicle. We headed back uphill to campus.
I had a first-meeting to make at 11; that much was set in stone. I had to go to Hall-Kinion and meet my contract agent face-to-face. Up to that point, we had each been little more than voices on the telephone. Still zonked, I got lost while driving through Zilker Park, but after a pull-off and a map check, I got my bearings and turned at the right intersection, found the right business building, found the parking garage, then found the office.
The receptionist greeted me and messaged to my agent that I was there, and he welcomed me in, offered me a drink, and we exchanged cordials and chit-chat over some minor paperwork and non-disclosure agreements (ah, the perils of being a contract programmer). He asked if I’d like some lunch, perhaps the steak place next door, and I accepted. Wine-and-dine, man. Sleepy from being awake since thursday am, and made sleepier by a full belly, I was ready to go and make my way back towards campus to get my friend and go back to the house for some shuteye. My agent took the check and without looking at it he slipped the company credit card in the book, handed it to the waiter, and when the receipt was returned, we were off like a tube-top and back to the office. Heh. Four hours into Austin and I was already eating on a company expense account!
That weekend proved to be a major challenge and an immense experience as my two hosts graciously gave me tips, driving directions, local history, and doing everything in their power to introduce me to the true vibe of Austin. They helped me find the office on Bee Caves Road where I would be reporting for duty on Monday, my first day at my first real tech job. I couldn’t have asked for a better crash course on Austin (thank you guys); I got an insight that only hinted at what the “townies” have known for years, and it was a great start. Three weeks and two paychecks ($$!!) later, I made their futon available once again and found my own place to live.
I was an Austinite.
Since then, for the most part my time here has been a steady derth of straight-as-she-goes lifestyle mixed up with bouts of dizzying but welcomed whirlwinds of change. And I’m still changing, still finding new places, still seeing new things, still meeting new people. I have to say that living here in Austin has been rather rewarding, even during the hard times, and I wouldn’t have traded it for any other place.
Thanks, Austin, for taking me in. Three years is one hell of a ride. Here’s to many, many more.
Y’know, I still have that map. :smiles: