Austin Is Magic

Austin Is Magic. I think that must have been said about ten times a day for each day I was in Texas. And it's true. Austin is magic. It was arguably the single best vacation I have ever been on. I don't know exactly why that is, but it just was. Maybe it's because it's the first solo vacation I've taken since Ken and I got together sixty-four years ago, maybe it was my amazing host family, maybe it was all the liquor or maybe it was seeing an old classmate from Ocean City High. All I know I had the best time.
Here I am, just off the plane. And I look it. I look tired and like I need to have my teeth whitened. By this point in the day, I should have been ready for a nap. The night before I slept for shit. Between the excitement of flying out in the morning and the panic of not being able to turn my brain off, I didn't sleep much. My flight was 6:30 am and set for arrival at 12:30 pm (in a different time zone even!). I managed to fall asleep on the plane for maybe 20 minutes. But I was too excited to be tired. I was in Austin, I was with Freddy and I was where the temperatures said it was summer. Upstate New York has been in perpetual April for months now. I was ready to soak up the big Texas sun.

We loaded up my bags and headed straight back to Chez Freddy. I have to tell you that this was the first time during the trip where I could feel my nerves kick in. I'm sure I was feeling them before this, but I was scared by what was waiting for me back at the house. Namely, Freddy's son, Adrian. I don't have much of any experience with kids. I don't have any in my life, I don't really know much about them except what I learned in my years of retail (and that's all bad stuff). I expressed this to Freddy in my pre-trip emails and he told me to stop being such a fucking retard. The kids love playing with their own shit, how could they not love me. I think that was meant as a compliment, at least that's how I took it. Anyway, I was warned that Adrian will keep his distance from me for maybe the first hour and by dinner he'll be wrestling his brother for the chance to sit next to me. Nathan, on the other hand, will be mine from the second he sets eyes on me. But that's not quite how things worked out. Adrian heard the jeep pull into the driveway and was there at the door waiting for us. And it took about nine seconds from seeing me until we were best friends.

Shortly after getting in the door, I was led to my Luxury Suite. And like any fine hotel, there was a welcome package waiting for me. Candy (dark chocolate Reese's... my FAVORITE!!!!!), a handy handbook/journal, a magazine all about Austin, soap and cum rag. All the bases covered. Oh, and I didn't get a picture of it, but the most amazing Welcome poster attached to my door, custom made by Adrian (and Freddy, I'm guessing.)

We only stuck around long enough to drop my bags and then it was off to lunch. I don't remember the name of the place we went to, but it was delicious. Adrian and I got to do some bonding, as you can tell from the photo.

After lunch, it was time for me to meet the fourth and final member of my host family, Nathan. He was in school, so we went to pick him up. Although I was told this would happen, I was still really shocked when we picked him up. We went into his classroom, he saw Daddy, ran to him and then made a beeline to me, so happy to see me. This kid has never met me before, but it didn't matter. I was really feeling humbled. It was at this point that I stopped feeling like a total fucking retard and realized that Freddy doesn't lead you astray. Ever.

We made a quick stop at the supermarket on the way home and picked up some necessities.

One of those necessities was beer and it wasn't long before Walter was feeling a little overserved. It didn't take much either. It's sad when you remember that it was almost exactly three years since you were last drunk. So, yeah, it didn't take much. Dinner followed shortly thereafter and then we headed out to meet up with our fabulous female counterparts.

Holly flew in from Minnesota to stay at the Tasty Jewelry Corporate Headquarters with President and CEO Diane. We headed over to the HQ to meet up with them, have cocktails and then head out. This is where the blurriness starts to set in. Between being on the go all day with no sleep and being overserved, my memory was due to fail. I know we hung out at the HQ for a little while and then we went somewhere, but that somewhere I don't recall. And we enjoyed some more tasty beverages. The ladies got some mac n' cheese, but I didn't want any for fear that it would soak up the alcohol. We made quite a few drunkie phone calls to all the podcasts we could find saved in our phones. And we called my darling Ricky. I wish I could remember a lot of what I said to him, but it's probably better that way. I think I had more fun on my first day of vacation than most people have in a full week. And I still had ten more days to go!

I won't go into as much detail about the rest of the trip, mainly because all the days started blurring into one and I'm sure I'm going to mess up the timeline. But some real highlights for me were:

Going to Schlitterbahn. I don't have any pics of that day yet, but Freddy bought a waterproof camera to take some shots. Hopefully there will be pictures soon!
The intervention we scheduled for Holly. There was no way in hell I was going to let her go home with a toothless, homeless wino again. No way!

Spending time at Barton Springs. I went twice. First time as a group activity with Freddy, Jed, the kids, Holly and Diane. Second time was a date with Diane. What a beautiful place. The water was chilly, but great to get out in. I spent three days in Texas parading around without a shirt on. For me, that's huge. I have a lot of body issues, most of which are in my head and nowhere else, but I managed to shut them off while in Texas. Even the issues I have that are evident to those with eyes (the dreaded back hair... the arms that are too skinny for my frame...) didn't really bother me. I forgot how much I like to go swimming until Barton Springs.

And speaking of Diane, I was so excited to finally meet her in person. I still have a lot of remorse for not being able to make it down to NYC when she was here a few months ago. I got to make up for it in Texas, though.

Of course, drinking was a huge highlight for me. I haven't done that in so long. I felt like I was 22 again, if only for a week and a half.
I did karaoke. Me. For real. Now you need to know that not only would I never, ever do karaoke in my "real" life, I would NEVER, EVER consider GOING to karaoke. But a little booze and a lot of support from my friends go a long way.

Seeing Gregg and Melanie again. The three of us have been friends online for the better part (if not more) of a decade. We finally got the chance to meet in person three years ago (and Gregg was the last person to get me drunk, fyi) in Illinois when we all attended the memorial service of another dear friend of ours. As an aside, Gregg used to live here in Albany and we frequented the same places all the time, but we didn't know each other. It wasn't until after he moved to Texas that we became friends.

Meeting Kim and Mandie in person. Kim I've gotten to know mostly through Facebook and Mandie moreso on Twitter. Both ladies are fucking great!
Joe! So tall. So pretty. So incredibly nice. I didn't think it would be possible to adore him more.

I like to go to comic shops when I travel. I order the bulk of my comics online, but exploring new shops is a lot of fun for me. Austin has probably the single best comic shop I have ever seen. First off, the place is HUGE. They have the single best selection of new stuff and back issues I've ever experienced. I could spend days in there and not stop finding new things. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed once I got to looking. I'm forever grateful to Jed for bringing me. I only spent about $50, though I could have easily spent 10 times that. The only problem would be how do I get all the loot back home with me.

Kay! I started stalking her on Facebook in preparation for my trip. All I knew about her was Freddy worships the ground she walks on (at least in my world that's how it is). So I started emailing her asking for help in finding the perfect hostess gifts for Freddy, Jed and the boys. We only got to spend a little time together on Saturday and quite frankly, it wasn't nearly enough. Next visit, I'm demanding more Kay time.

Hanging out with Jesus.

I know this is going to sound dumb, but I think my favorite parts of my whole trip were the quiet times at home when Freddy and I got to chit chat about this, that and nothing. He's got a great back deck where we sat out at night. Or we sat on the couch and talked. Granted, Freddy did more than his fair share of talking, but he's absolutely fascinating to listen to. And he knows so much about so many different things. Hell, I was amazed at the tour of Austin he gave me because he knows so much about the history of the town, specifics about the buildings and the areas and, well, everything.

A very close second favorite (VERY, VERY close) was meeting and getting to know the boys. Like I said earlier, I have no experience with little kids. None. I don't have any in my life, at least on a regular basis. I absolutely fell in love with these two kids. Simply put, they're amazing. I had so much fun playing with them, hanging out with them and getting to know them. And I'm surprised how much I learned about myself from just being in their presence. For a while now, I was thinking that something was missing in my life and was wondering if having a child would fill that void. While it's possible it might, I really don't think I was cut out to be a father. I know I have enough love in my heart for a child, but parenting is a lot of hard work and I don't think I'm strong enough of a man to do what's right in the way of raising a kid. But I think I would make a kick ass uncle. I just wish I had a kid or two in my everyday life to spoil the shit out of.

My original plan was to keep a more active journal of what was going on while I was in Texas and make daily posts. It was a good idea, but it just never happened. One little blogpost and that was it. So this is going to have to make up for the lack of recent posts.

P.S. I just got this picture and I absolutely LOVE it. I think the Magic of Austin really shines through in it.


(F)redddy said...

So glad you had such a great time. Austin IS magic, and so is Walt. Schlitterbahn pics coming soon.

Janie's Got a Blog said...

I felt like I was on board while you where in TX but reading your post was even better. Love the pics and the boys are SO so cute.

Joe in Philly said...

What exactly is going on in that pic under the pic of you and Jesus? ;-)

Bjorn said...

Sounds like a great trip. I wish i could have found a way down there to meet everyone. now i guess joe, melanie and I going to have to have a get together here sometime.

jealous i am.

Dyl said...

Joe, I think it´s something to do with how the band Scissor Sisters got their name.

Walt, looks like you had a great time. I´m beaming just thinking about it. Good on ya. x

Gregg P. said...

Loved seeing you again Walt, as well as getting to meet Freddie, Jed, their boys, and Diane -- just a terrific bunch of folks. And I LOVE our picture together!!!