September 16th, 2007

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Why the Grass Isn't Always Greener

I don't want you to think we're fickle folk by nature, but pretty much ever since my husband and I became my husband and I, we've contemplated moving. 

Austin, Texas, is where we met and fell in love, but it's not on the ocean (home of my husband's heart) and it's not in the mountains (home of mine) and it's a very long haul to visit our families. 

There were other places, we thought, that might suit us better. 

So we kind of kept one foot out the door for a good, long time. Only every time we'd think, "maybe we should head to Colorado, or Oregon, or Alaska, or Belize..." something really terrific would happen. I'd get a fellowship. He'd get a new bluegrass gig. I'd start to teach. He'd get into graduate school. We'd get a canoe and adopt pets. We'd have a baby. We'd have another. Jobs fell into place and communities coalesced. We formed writing groups, bookclubs and bands.  We grew close to our neighbors and colleagues. We found preschools and, later, elementary schools we thought were good for our kids and our family. We have running and tennis partners, babysitters, someone who gives smashing haircuts, and a guy who does our taxes. We have a hometown.

This year, we had another opportunity to hit the road... and we chose Austin. My husband took a new job, and we're working on plans to add a little more space to our tiny-house-with-the-big-backyard. I'm not saying this is the hill we're gonna die on, but I can say we are, today, deeply satisfied and firmly planted. 

I could come up with a pretty good list of reasons for being here almost any time of year, but here are just a few of the things I'm loving right now:

1. When you live in Austin, Texas, you live in the Live Music Capital of the World. I know what you're thinking. That chambers of commerce make up monikers like that one. But really. There's a lot of music going on here. All the time. In parks, bars, restaurants, outdoor ampitheaters, schools and shopping centers. This weekend is the Austin City Limits Music Festival down in Zilker Park. We've ridden our bikes to see everyone from James Hunter and Gotan Project to Steve Earle and Zap Mama. Tonight, I won't be blogging 'cause I'll be down with Lucinda Williams and Ziggy Marley and Bob Dylan. I'm serious.

2.  When you're a kid in Austin, Texas, your city swim team has its final meet at the University of Texas Jamail Swimming Center. And when your school kicks off its Marathon Kids fitness program, you run the first mile at the University of Texas Mike Myers Stadium. Standing on those starting blocks, you feel like a real, honest-to-goodness jock -- whether you're six or sixteen.

3. When you live in Austin, Texas, people like Molly Ivins and Ann Richards and Ladybird Johnson count as family. When Mrs. Johnson died this summer, the city promptly re-named our lake (which is really a river, but that's another story) "Ladybird Lake". The old Congress Avenue bridge, that stretches across Ladybird Lake, is now called Ann Richards Bridge. 

4. And speaking of the lake, when you live in Austin, Texas, you've got a crazy-lot of water and trails. The hike-and-bike trail, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Barton Springs, Deep Eddy and a host of great, green, neighborhood parks. And that's just some of the stuff smack inside the city limits. You should see the hill country.

5. When you live in Austin, Texas, you've got really good grocery shopping, up the road and down, along with a whole heap of farmer's markets and community gardens.

6. When you live in Austin, Texas, you get a lot of great, creative radio -- at KUT and KOOP and KGSR.

7. When you live in Austin, Texas, you have a fabulous independent bookstore.

8. When you live in Austin, Texas, you get to celebrate Diez y Seis de Septiembre and Dios de los Muertos and Mardi Gras and Carnival and Juneteenth and whole host of other holidays that belong to our friends and neighbors. 

9. When you live in Austin, Texas, you've got an incredibly active, talented, generous, friendly and successful SCBWI chapter to call your own.

10. And then there are the people. No way to scoop 'em all up into a bullet point. No way to link to 'em. But take my word for it. Austin is Texas Friendly. We share our lives with artists, parents, activists, athletes, neighbors, scholars, gardners, musicians and friends beyond measure. Which is the real point of a hometown. I'm pretty sure. 

We still fly and drive to get our feet in the sand and our heads in the clouds and to get up-close-and-personal with our far-flung families. But in between, our day-to-day lives are here. At home.

What do you love about where you live?