On being Austin exes

On being Austin exes

What do you get nostalgic about?
As you get old enough to have versions of you that aren’t yours anymore, you’re supposed to keep the best ones up on a shelf. Refer to them when you hear That One Song. That’s the rule, right?
For me, as I work on a new project, it’s all about the Austin, Texas that was. Austin Austin Austin. I didn’t even have that great a time when I lived in Austin in 2007. Some of it was harrowing. Much of it was anguished. I went through a painful breakup. My rebound was a newly-widowed sociopath. I stepped on a lit cigarette. That sort of thing.
I was also part of the burgeoning Austin comedy scene. It was the first few moments I was actually out on my own as an adult. I took a friend up on an invitation and moved to L.A. sight unseen (which sparked another fairly harrowing year).
Maybe it’s not so much the what, but the how that was so appealing about that moment in Austin. There was a real charm to the Austin of the 2000’s. You can still see little vestiges of it, tucked into the areas where they can’t build glass gastropubs or live-work-play supercomplexes.
I often explain it thusly: it used to be, when a new pizza place opened in Austin, it had hand-built benches they painted black, and the air conditioner was loud and wet and cold. Now it’s different. I can’t imagine what it was like to be an Austinite all the way from 1990 to 2010. I hear the Mission used to be lovely, too. And Greenwich.
These things happen, don’t they?
It’s a gift of our humanity, to be able to look back at our interpreted records of a moment, and have the sensory bullet points turn into music. It’s like that episode of House where the old woman has syphilis and she opts not to treat it because she likes how it makes her more alive.
I’m pretty excited about this thing. I had thought I’d wanted to tell a story about Austin, but I think it’s more like I want to play a song for you.