Four months ago D and I planned our future on a napkin while out to dinner. We were contemplating our next move and organizing various states and cities into categories such as no-way-in-hell; probably not; maybe; top choices; and weird-suburban-eastern states-no-one-knows-anything-about.
Michigan and Wisconsin never made it into a category, but instead floated on a line somewhere between probably not and maybe. New Hampshire and Maine were relegated to an island wedged between maybe and top choices. Alaska was crossed out and relocated to NWIH for a reason I no longer recall. Texas sat firmly in the probably not category alongside Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, and Alabama. (And now after reexamining the napkin I just made the executive decision to move Iowa into the NWIH column. For future reference.)
We based our analysis on practical things like regional politics, access to trails for running and biking, proximity to mountains and international airports, the likelihood of both of us finding jobs in our fields, and the ability to purchase booze on Sundays. And then we compromised. I let Oregon sneak into the top choices distinction and D begrudgingly let D.C. in the door. We considered these small victories. As I jotted each location underneath its respective category, I noticed the list scaled east and felt confident my side of the country would prevail. I suspect D felt the same way about his.
But we were both wrong.
A few weeks ago, an unanticipated opportunity in the Republic of Texas arose that was better than any of the other options on the table. And I knew that. And it stung. D called during his scouting trip to Austin to sell me on the city.
“So I went to this BBQ joint with my cousin and they were giving out free beer,” he said. “They just tapped a keg and put out cups of beer where you picked up the ribs. You can pretty much drink everywhere here. And most places have patio seating.”
D also returned with presents for me of the best kind: packages of gourmet cheese and pictures of the local grocery co-op. He told me about a food truck that serves biscuits and gravy and mentioned that the people on his flight actually argued over which BBQ restaurant he should visit first. (He knows my weakness for pork.)
Still, both of us struggled to wrap our minds around moving to a state where Rick Perry would be our governor. We discussed the idea over strong beverages in our kitchen and with family over coffee on the Skype. We needed a bit more convincing. Feedback from my side of the family went typically something like this: Austin? Oh. I’ve never been there. I hear it has a great music scene. Huh. Austin. And then there was the response from D’s family – most of whom attended Rice.
D’s mum (a native Texan): I am just so happy! I think you’re both going to love Austin. I love Austin. And Texans are just the nicest people you will ever meet.
Me: Nancy, if Texans are so great, then how come they keep trying to secede?
And so forth.
But I’ve come to terms with the move. And I am getting more excited each day. In a strange way, I think it’s good that Austin wasn’t a place either of us was gunning for – it wasn’t even on our radar. Because Texas will be a place we can discover together. Kind of like Utah.
Last weekend we had a yard sale. And it was amazing. People paid money for our junk, and then a man who owns a thrift shop in Wyoming came and hauled the rest away. All we had to do was drink coffee on our front stoop for a few hours in the sun and chat with neighbors we never knew and others we did. One woman cruising down our street on her bicycle stopped to have a look and absently asked where we were moving as she scanned the lawn. Her eyes popped when we told her.
“I love Austin! I used to live in Austin,” she said. “I was just there. I am so jealous! You’re going to love it.”
I smiled. And then she pedaled away.