I think generally speaking, people like to go sightseeing on their vacations. I understand the impulse, but often I find that I’m more interested in opportunities to observe other people. This doesn’t just apply to traveling abroad, but within America as well. I’m fascinated by the multiplicity of regional subcultures and its manifestations in the respective local food and art scenes. In college, I frequently finagled a way to follow my friends to their hometowns, instead of my own, during semester breaks. Austin happens to be the home town of my closest friend.
Before my first trip to Austin, I was a little tentative of going to Texas. I bought into the stereotypes of Texans as redneck, Hill Country folk and Austinites as Williamsburg/Brooklyn-esque transplants marked by a distinct disdain for their fellow Texans. To my pleasant surprise, Austin was at once incredibly familiar and foreign. In many ways, Austin is similar to parts of Southern California: plentiful sunshine, abundance of outdoor activities, great Mexican food, the car as the preferred and logical form of transportation. It also meets many of the criteria of the twentysomething hipster: amazing cheap eats, film buff heaven, plenty of trendy bars to be seen in, loads of sketchy dives to get shitfaced in (food trucks, Alamo Drafthouse/Vulcan Video, Rainey Street and Sixth Street, respectively). Yet, Austin is definitely still part of Texas. There are BBQ joints, boots, and trucks a plenty.
This was where I ended up spending my senior beach week. Instead of drinking the last of my college days away on Myrtle Beach with the rest of my classmates, I was in Austin eating my fill of queso and lounging around with my closest friends. The prospect of eating more than I ever wanted to was infinitely more attractive than trying to drink the anxiety surrounding graduation away. In many respects, we didn’t do much of anything, but I’d take a meandering, yet intimate, sober conversation over sloppy, drunken “I love you”s and “Don’t leave me”s any day. It only seemed appropriate to spend this time in a city that was at once comfortingly familiar, yet painted with novelty.
I meant to better document my week in Austin, but the food and sunshine must have distracted me. I’ve included some iPhone snapshots below.