See you later, Austin

The car is sold, the condo is sparkling clean, my bags are packed.  All that is left is to do is  ship a few more boxes to my new home across the pond.

Yesterday was a day of happy events and sad good-byes: lunch and happy hour with co-workers, and an amazing dinner with friends at Uchi (how is it that I have never been to this place before my last night in Austin??  Amazing!!).

Rather like my mood during my wedding week, the stress melted away the closer I got to the big day.  Today is the big day, my last day in Austin, my last day as a Texan (indeed, if I ever really was a Texan).  I am shamed to admit that I never saw the Congress Street bats.  I never bought a wristband to South by Southwest. I never went to a UT football game.  I never went to Hippie Hollow, I never bought a pair of cowboy boots.  I never made weekend visits to Dallas or Houston, or the Texas Coast. I didn’t take advantage of all of the amazing live music venues around town as often as I could.  There are so many more things I could have done and places that I could have explored here in my three-year adopted home town.

But for now, I will have to chalk up all of those things as a reason to come back and visit.  Goodbye, Austin.  I’ll miss your infamous “weirdness”, your hip, laid-back vibe, your self-confident knowledge that there is more to life then running around in circles and bone-grinding ambition.  There is pleasure, there is courtesy, there is friendliness.  Thank you for making me a more friendly person, a person who is more apt to talk to strangers and believe that those strangers are good people.  Thank you for making me a more patient person, a person who can go with the flow in a long grocery store line or traffic.

Thank you, thank you, for helping this culturally-conservative (small “c”) New Englander understand that there are many different ways to live and enjoy your life, and that the center of the universe does not revolve around the East Coast.  I think I get that now 🙂

by Caitlin McGauley

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List #1: Looking forward to London

  1. Sub-100 degree days. (High of 103 on September 26th, Austin, REALLY?)
  2. English accents
  3. Compulsive tea-drinking. (Tea-drinking is universal and constant in England, and least from my observations. Every Briton, no matter their age, race, socio-economic background, creed, delights in a frequent cuppa, which seems to have soothing psychic effects on their mood).
  4. Runs in public gardens (Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, St. James’ Park…)
  5. Living in a highly urban area, and the energy that comes from brushing shoulders with interesting and diverse people.
  6. A fresh new start — feels like the beginning of a school year, in some respects, which I always loved.
  7. Limited bug population — you can open your windows in the spring and summer in London, and only the lone fly will come in.  In Austin, any amount of creepy crawly, including the dreaded palm-sized cockroach, will feel free to drop in and ruin your day with an open window.
  8. Highly efficient public transportation.
  9. Being able to walk to work
  10. Pub culture (I often favor beer over wine, so the idea of a casual beer after work is really delightful).

New York Family

This weekend, I met up with the Mister and his family in New York City.  The Mister’s brother and wife live on the Upper West Side and are expecting a little one to arrive at the end of October, a Halloween baby.  It was such fun to spend some time with them and the rest of the Mister’s family on a beautiful, warm weekend in New York, preparing for the baby.  We celebrated my sister-in-law with a safari-themed baby shower at Sarabeth’s, put together the changing table and set up the nursery, and watched in amazement as the baby kicked my sister-in-law, and we could actually see her stomach jump.  Amazing!

One of the food highlights of the weekend was, for sure, dinner at Momofuku’s Ssam Bar, a Korean / Asian fusion restaurant on the Lower East Side. I am constantly amazed by the sheer array of delicious and innovative restaurants in New York City, and Ssam Bar was no exception.  Their steamed pork belly buns with hoisin sauce are so delightfully light, flavorful and delicious and melted in your mouth.  It was a long wait for a table on a Saturday night (they do not take reservations) but the food was certainly worth it.  After dinner, we hopped across the street to Milk Bar and partook in some “Cereal Milk” flavored soft serve, candy bar pie and the famous “crack pie” (addictive like crack, does not contain actual crack).

Last night, as my plane pulled up to the gate at Austin Bergstrom International Airport around midnight, I realized that this was the last time I’d fly into this airport, find my way to the car in long term parking lot, and drive to my home.  It made me feel, in equal parts, sad and excited.