Friday, August 21, 2009


I've been trying to explain to various people my reaction to returning to Austin a mere 13 months after I left, and I believe tonight I have finally managed to capture the feeling in a cliche which we all do or should understand: You can never go home again.

I came to Austin first when I was a child and loved that this small town (as it was then) was the capital of the biggest state (Alaska can bite me.. :) ) in the US. I returned many years later to go to the biggest record (albums, LPs.. ) convention in the world, and once again fell in love with the great green hills, the laid back atmosphere, and the feeling of place, of real unique identity. I visited a few more times while in graduate school, and finally moved here, mostly by accident, in 2000. I stayed in no small part because of the people (ironically those people were not from Austin themselves!) but also because of all of the attributes I had enjoyed in the past visits.

None of that has changed, other than the fact that Austin is no longer a small town in anyone's imagination, except perhaps in comparison to any small city in China.. (though the Chinese cities retain more of their community flavor than US cities in my experience..). Still, Austin is not home anymore, even though no where is home at the moment.

This does not prevent me from enjoying the drive down Spicewood Springs road over to McNeil, or from savoring with childish glee the negative G's that you can get on a particular arroyo on Westlake Drive if you hit is just over the speed limit.. Nor does it take away from the heaven that is a well crafted Freebirds! or a night at Shady Grove enjoying the big man, Bruce Robison, and his wife Kelly Willis. I have very much enjoyed my visit here, from the place to the food, to the people, but still it is not home and does not have that magnetic draw to it that Austin once held for me.

Just as Austin changed me, largely for the better, so has this year plus traveling changed me such that Austin is a good friend, a great place to visit, but not a place to live for me anymore. I noticed in my short, although extemded beyond my intentions, time here that I fall into a particular rut that is not where I want to be. I have done the whole rabid business owner thing, and it was good for a while, but my priorities have shifted a bit to focusing on my own life directly rather than focusing on creating environments for others that will ultimately contribute a bit to my own life (through the checks they send).

Tomorrow is my last day in Austin, and I am ending it in the right way: a birthday party for a lovely woman who tolerates a very trying but equally wonderful man, both of whom I consider dear friends. The Wichita crowd is largely going to be present which will be a nice reunion of those folks, then Sunday morning I leave to go back to the hills for a bit..

While none of us can really go home again, it is good to be reminded that life is not stagnant, that we grow, change, and evolve such that at different times we really are different people enjoying a different life.

It is what it is..

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