Texas Ash. Fraxinus albicans. There’s something about this time of year in Austin where night walks are amazing. It’s the smells, the scents, the warm, muggy breezes that carry the quixotic chemistry of life to light up my olfactory bulb, to excite my hippocampus, to carry me calmly into my strolling heaven.
It’s more than the smell of newly cut grass in this central-Austin neighborhood. It’s more than the rosebuds and tiny little chirps of night birds, the exhaust of clothes dryer vents, or fragrant honeysuckle and the weeds in the creek. It’s the Texas Ash. To be walking downwind, where it’s there and then it’s gone. It’s the hunt to get back into the thick of it, to find it again. The sudden awareness of now. Texas ash. There’s something in that flowering scent, a note of latex, a long yawn of the soul, a pungent aphrodisiac. Texas ash.
I swear, if I had land, I would plant a grove of these. When I think of moving away, I only need to smell Texas ash, and I know I’m home. This is as close as you’ll hear me rhapsodize this state, but the region gives some convincing apologies.
My longtime friend Pat is moving back home to Wisconsin this week. 16 years is a long time to know a guy and to live in one town. I was one of the reasons he moved here in 2002. But, citing the growing cost of living here, the lack of potential in this town, and his desire to move back to live near his family, he and his boyfriend Will are packing up and kicking up gravel in their wake.
I know my future isn’t in Austin, either. I just don’t know when or why I’d move, or where I’d move to. But occasionally I wonder about it, ponder on my wanderlust. If not here, then where?
Mostly, I think about what I’d miss. The food, mostly. Thundercloud, Ruby’s BBQ (now closed), East Side Pies. Among many others. But yeah. What else? My radio club? Sure. The cafes? Maybe (regardless of how much time I’ve spent inside them). The few personal friends I still see occasionally? Certainly.
Really, I’d miss the squandered potential of my 18 years here. I could have had and done and been so, so much here. All I’d have to do is fluff up my feathers and peacock along with every other dime-store DJ dotcom startup burner techie elite. Instead, I stuck to my muted integrity (somewhat) and got nowhere. It’s not necessarily that people are excluding me, they’re just not including me. I drive around and see places and things, and don’t see the people inside. I don’t call, don’t write, don’t visit. Finding my society means I have to actually look for them, because when I’m out of sight, I’m completely out of their mind.
One day I’ll have it figured out. Until then, my love for this town remains unrequited.
It’ll suck to know Pat’s not around when I need to say Hi, but it’s good knowing he’ll be in a less tenuous locale. Godspeed, Pat and Will.
Had a snap cold front that made our day-long rainfall turn to sleet, then snow. Big, fluffy, slow flakes. Didn’t get any shots during the falling, but there were some accumulations of 1/4″. A respectable feat for Austin.
Thanks, everyone, for your concern for my physical well-being during this Hurricane Harvey event. I’m fine. Most of Austin is fine. Matter of fact, we’re just inconvenienced by the slow, constant rain and gusty wind. The worst my 2nd-story apartment got was a 3-minute power outage Saturday afternoon, and my UPS systems kept my computers running through the duration. Meanwhile, I was at work checking for leaks in the datacenter and putting out buckets.
Austin is fine. Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached us, so its fearsome force basically vanished.
If you would like to redirect your concern and assistance to those in real need, contact the American Red Cross and any other legitimate charitable organization of your choosing to see about lending a hand or a donation. The entire crescent of the Texas Gulf coast, around 200 miles deep, was and continues to be heavily impacted.