Austin Has Its Limits

Austin has plastic guitars everywhere: in the baggage claim at the airport, in neon above clubs, even on the back of trucks. And also chair backs at restaurants. The thing is: I think Austin is trying too hard to be something that it is not.

I was in Austin this week visiting my friend LS. She’s a really good songwriter, but also a very successful marketing director. She’s from Texas but has spent the last twenty years in Los Angeles. We met in LA doing a play a series of shorts at a theater inside of a church at Hollywood and Franklin. We played two girls who’d been out all night drinking and were recovering the next day at the pool. Not much has changed. Except that we’re middle aged women and wouldn’t be caught dead in swim suits under hot stage lights. So this vitamin company moved LS to Austin a year ago. She was so excited to leave LA and try on a new life. Thing is: she hated it, the people the way there isn’t any real city center only winding hills in the middle of the city. But mostly she’s sad that she changed her whole life for a bipolar CEO who didn’t even give a reason to let her go after 60 hour work weeks all the stress and the weight she gained. I’m thinking, she told me, that I’d be fine if my life were over now.

We were standing in her walk-in closet. She was frantically hunting for her old Diane Von Furstenberg dresses to give me. I’ll never be your size again, she said. Not so very long ago, I wanted to end my life also. I reminded her of the spinal taps, MRIs and mostly just the powerless utterly sad state of being 50 and looking back wondering what in the world had I accomplished? And what was it all for?

We can only move forward I told her later driving to see a group of young Texas songwriters perform in a contest. We have about 20 good years left. Let’s do whatever the fuck it is we want. You can do anything you want right now, I said.

She kept her eyes on the windy road, Austin has construction everywhere, google maps was trying to reroute us again. Suddenly, her phone spoke, GPS system lost. I laughed, Well there you have it. The title of your next album. And then she laughed.

That night, the bar had two neon plastic guitars over its entrance. Over halfway through our lives and still trying to make sense of it all.

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