Like any good Texan, I am very obsessed with Texas. It's the best. The end.
Except no, it's not the end! Because not only am I Texan, I'm from Austin. Born, raised, and now back with a vengeance in the form of a truly nauseating native superiority complex! If you think Texas pride is bad to begin with, grab ya Dramamine before reading the rest of this post!
The ATX is hard to describe if you've never been there, and it's hard to describe if you've never been there until now.
In just the four years since I last lived here, it feels as if it's doubled in size and shifted in style. It's changed, no doubt. Some of the quirks and character have been lost along the way — that's just the nature of things — but I like to think they live on in those of us who grew up with the city.
Austin influenced me like a family member or childhood friend. It took me leaving to see it, but I'm so much a product of the city. Its laid-back, friendly culture; its embrace of both the artistic and athletic; its creative energy and its hippie vibes. Austin has a little bit of everything, all mixed into one beautiful, weird, welcoming environment that I call home. I'm proud of where I'm from, no doubt.
With that in mind, I've been keeping a running mental list since moving back of lil Texas (and Austin, in particular) things I love and have missed. Off the top of my head, here's a few:
- The people, obviously. I could write a whole blog post about this oh wait I already did here it is
- MEXICAN FOOD. And Tex-Mex in particular. Y'all, I feel so strongly about this that I just went four years without it rather than consume sub-par, Virginia """""Mexican""""" food. Now, I get emotional when I see fresh tortillas at HEB (<--- missed you too, Henry). I consume salsa with enough heat to make me cry because it is a privilege to live in a place where I can. I eat migas with awe. I am comforted by the assurance that no matter what, I can get in my car and be at Curra's in 20 minutes. I might save this post as a draft and go to Curra's right now!
- The food in general, come to think of it. For someone like me whose love for tacos is followed closely by her love for vegetables, this health-nut city is my oyster and Juiceland, Magnolia and Bouldin Creek Cafe are my pearls.
- Wildflowers that add a jolt of color to every drive. (See top photo.)
- Football. And football taken seriously. Friday Night Lights got this stereotype right — no other state comes close to the reverence with which Texans approach their favorite sport. It's fun being back in an environment that has such a genuine love for a game, especially since that culture was a significant influence on and inspiration for my own creativity and work. (To give you an idea, this is a photo of NRG Stadium. Full. For last year's high school football state championship game. Texas forever, AMIRITE?)
- University of Texas athletics, speaking of sports. I almost always prefer college to pro sports, and growing up amidst one of the most passionate collegiate fan bases on the planet probably has something to do with it. I would say you can't live here and not root for them, but that's a lie because the world is fallen and people do terrible things like root for Texas A&M all the time. :( Regardless, if an Austinite passes out and you don't have any smelling salts handy, just play the fight song. Pretty sure our bodies are physiologically programmed to get our 'horns up on cue.
- The speed limits. Because why go 55 when you can go 70? (Lynchburg, hi, yes, I'm talking to you.)
- Wandering downtown. Sure, it's becoming increasingly overriden by aggressively hipster tourists, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy my SoCo stroll or West 5th hangs on a sunny Saturday.
- Town Lake. For the familiar crunch of the running trail (or bob and sway of a paddle board, depending on the day) under my feet and city views that never get old to me. (And yes, it's Town Lake, not Ladybird Lake. Get it right.)
- Good music, and plenty of it. We're not the live music capital of the world for nothing, man.
- The fact that I'm only two and a half hours from my family, instead of 22 hours from my family.
I could go on forever, but I think you get the point.
And honestly, I think what I may have missed most about Texas was how much Texans love it. Happy to be around people who make everything into the state shape, print everything possible with the state flag and go to obnoxious lengths to champion their home.
You say it's annoying, we say you're jealous. And then we eat some tacos just to rub it in.