Today in Austin


One of the greatest days in the history of my life is only now just winding down. Late November in Austin begins its days with an icy frigidness that makes waking a necessity, an eager forced drive to pop out of bed and begin the day as it’s too cold to sleep and the sun is shining hard by 7am. I popped out of bed, the rest of the family still clinging deep into the last night’s sleeping dreams, dressed myself and began walking. I let the street lights dictate my route, wherever the walk signals lead me I followed.

The morning walk pushed my feet one in front of the other down the hiker/biker trail, through Zilker Park and back again until I was downtown. I won’t bore you with the details of my every step but suffice to say that there’s nothing quite like the feeling of moving at a pace which is too slow to be measured by MPH as the city’s morning rush hour pushes by you, everyone hustling, half-asleep and on their way to work as I have time to literally stop and smell the roses. I stopped into the only CVS I’ve been able to find in the city and purchased a tube of toothpaste. When I left the store a young man, in his early twenties and sitting on the hard concrete, dirty with the misfortune that homelessness brings for whatever reason, stopped me. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the homeless, having been one myself so long ago that it feels like another life by now, and when he asked me for a meal rather than a handout it reminded me that with all of the scheming street people you have to deal with on a daily basis when living in a city, there are those who are more than just looking for a workday-free dollar.

My trails lead me home and the family was waiting eagerly to head over to the local park, frisbee in hand, so that by noon we’d already had an hours worth of throwing the old disc around and Tristan was soaked through his genes with playing in the park’s fountain. Even while we threw the frisbee back and forth, laughing at each other’s inability to throw and catch in succession, a group of “professional” frisbee guys did Globe Trotteresque maneuvers 50 yards or so away from us.

A full day of work would ensue, a good day, the type of workday that leaves you feeling satisfied with a job fully well done, accomplishment ringing in your ears a happy bell whistle. I made a motion towards our local coffee shop, Flipnotics, where I was to meet up with some guys from Austin’s local bike DIY bike collective Yellow Bike. Yellow Bike is an organization that provides free lessons for people to learn how to fix bikes, similar to the Free Ride program in Pittsburgh. The basic gist of it is simple: bring your bike into the shop and they’ll help you learn how to fix it, not fix it for you, and in turn you’re expected to help them out in some way. I don’t know the exact specifics but the general idea is to get more people on bicycles, and in my book there are few things more worthy. The guys I met from Yellow Bike were better than your average work meeting, though, and we sat around talking for at least as long as we discussed web site specifics. I’m continually impressed with Austinites and their tendency towards extreme friendliness and ease of conversation. There really is something to be said for this city’s people’s attitudes toward living. I don’t know if it’s something that’s somehow inherent to the place itself, if the geography somehow leans towards friendly smiles or perhaps the year round sunny weather that causes the best in show of humanity to flock to a place like this, but whatever Austin is doing, it’s doing it right.

I left that meeting in the thick dark of a late Autumn evening, expecting to head home and make a night of it around some Family Guy or light conversation with the Mrs., but alas our porch was covered in empty beer bottles and our outdoor chairs arranged in a manner which would indicate that the previous occupants had been engaged in conversation. Upon opening the simple steel door to our RV house and home, I was greeted by a neighbor here in the Pecan Grove RV Park whom I’ve been meaning to get to know a bit better. We sat around and talked about skateboards and rock climbing and professions and urban sprawl and the state of life in general, well enough into the night that by the time he left I could do little else but reflect on what a day like today means for a person.

To have so many events packed into one 15 hours period, exploration, new friends, good conversation, solid physical exercise…I feel like a lucky man today and were this my last day, I think would have been a life well-lived.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow is even a piece of the good that is today’s pie.