I've been taking a lot of time off from work lately. I don't think I've worked a full five day week since sometime in October. It's been nice. Really nice. Between vacations and long weekends, I've been getting spoiled. This past weekend, for all intents and purposes, was the end of my vacationing. On Friday morning, I hopped a plane to Austin, Texas to celebrate the recent marriage of two of the best friends anyone could have the fortune to have. Back in October, my friends Freddy and Jed got married on a trip to New York. Since they were away from home, not many of their friends could join them. But they could for the reception and that's what the trip was all about.
The reception was going to be held out at a far outside of town. Tents and tables and bonfires and all that jazz. The previous weekend, the temperatures were in the mid 80s. That's a foreign concept for me living in the northeast. This time of year the temps are somewhere between 30 and 40. As the weekend approached, the forecast got less and less pleasant. Ultimately, Austin's weather became Albany's. Mid 30s with a chance for ice. Freddy did some scrambling and found a new indoor venue at the last minute. Thank baby Jesus!
The plan was for Ken and I to go. He's never been to Austin and this was finally his chance. At e last minute he had to cancel because of his new job. He was crushed (and he still is). So I traveled alone. What was different this time was (a) I wasn't staying with Freddy and Jed and I'd be driving in Austin, both new to me. I'm a fine driver and I've been to Austin enough to fake my way around, but I really learned that my sense of direction just isn't as strong as I think it is. The drive from the airport is about a half hour. Mine was an hour. Yeah, I got lost. I was relying on google maps to get me where I was going, but I lost my connection and for about 10-15 minutes had to rely on my instincts. I overshot my exit by about 12 minutes (which is when I got my connection reestablished.) but no big whoop. I planned on dropping my stuff and getting to Freddy's house by five. I wasn't too far behind that schedule.
Friday night was fun. Seeing Freddy and Jed and their kids, as well as my good friend Eric from NYC and Texas friends Heather and Amy Carr (my nemesis!). I got to meet Freddy's brother-in-law, who also flew in from out of town that night. We hung out, had some awesome Mexican food and played Cards Against Humanity (on one of my turns to read, I ended up crying because the cards were too funny and I could barely read them.) It was a fantastic night. Eric was staying about a mile or so from me and I brought him back to his place before heading back to mine. Freddy hooked me up with an airbnb owned by friends of his. I knew of them from his Facebook page, but I didn't know them. About five minutes after I got to my place, there was a knock on my door from Andy. He invited me over to the main house to hange out and to meet him and Ellen. I'm such and awkward person when I don't know someone (less awkward than my usual awkward) and I hope I didn't come off too badly to them. I'm guessing I didn't because we hung out for nearly two hours getting to know each other. They're really great people. I didn't get to bed until a little after 1am, which i realized wasn't exactly true as I laid down to go to sleep. Because of the time zone change, my body thought it was 2am. Considering I got up at 5:30 that morning, it was a long ass day.
Saturday Eric and I were on our own for most of it. We slept in a bit and hooked up around 10 o'clock. I brought him to a restaurant near my place that is been to on a previous trip to town. The food was as good as I recalled. Because I'm a pig, I ordered the rocky road pancakes. Chocolate pancakes with mocha chips, nuts and topped with marshmallow fluff. Eric went healthy. What a putz! Just as we were leaving, I got a call from Freddy asking if we could help him bring some supplies down to the venue later that afternoon. In between, Eric and I did what any two nerds would do. We hit up a comic book store. Austin has some great shops. We planned on hitting two of them, but ran out of time. But the one store we hit was spectacular. Afterwards, we stopped for coffee (or hot chocolate for me) and a snack (this pig got a chocolate/peanut butter cupcake) and then to help out Freddy. We loaded my car with boxes and brought them down. We also helped out getting the place set up for the party before we were dismissed. Driving back to where we were staying, we tried to figure out if there was going to be enough time to hit another comic shop, but there really wasn't. Instead, we swung by Eric's for him to pick up clothes and then back to my place to get ready. Eric needed an iron. His place didn't have one, but mine did. We got ready and then got a lift down to the venue with Ellen. I mentioned to her that I was going to catch a cab so I could drink and she offered the ride instead.
Man, that party was fun. Fun fun fun. I started drinking early. I don't really think I had all that much to drink, but I felt it. I have a rather low tolerance for booze and I didn't eat anything all day after that cupcake, so I had nothing to soak up he alcohol. I wish I could learn to loosen up in sober life like I do when I have a little bit of booze in me. From what I'm told and what I remember, I was really outgoing all night long. Really outgoing. I got to see a bunch of people I know already, like my friend Gregg, who I've know since waaaaaaaay before Freddy. I got to see a bunch of people I know through Freddy like Kay and Darla and Leslie and Kevin and TJ. I got to meet in person a lot of new people who I feel like I already sort of know from Freddy's Facebook feed. People like his co-worker Christy, who always cracks me up, and Elizabeth and Karissa and Julie and Shelli. And if that's not enough, there were people I wasn't all that familiar with from Facebook or previous trips who were just spectacular. One in particular was Stephen the bartender. I saw him when we went down to help set up the place earlier in the afternoon and thought he was fucking hot. But I'm not the type of person to say anything (because I'm awkward and repressed and uptight). We'll, I'm not the type until you put some liquor in me and then I've got all the courage in the world to tell him to his face he makes me hard. Only, it's kind of embarrassing when his husband is standing there next to him when you spill the beans. Actually, it's only embarrassing the following day when you sober up.
It kind of freaked me out at the party for people to come up to me and ask if I was Walt. It happened quite a few times and I felt like I was famous or something. It started with my new friend Karissa and kept on happening all night long. My favorite time was when Freddy's neighbor asked, "Are you THE Walt?" That's not just any old Walt. I'm THE Walt!
I know I'm leaving out people, but it's not on purpose. There were so many people there and I don't feel like I got to spend enough time with any of them. I'm also pretty sure I was like a little boy constantly distracted by a shiny object, going person to person randomly.
Sunday was both fun and sad. Norman had to leave shortly before breakfast. Eric had to leave shortly after breakfast. So did Amy Carr. There's something about saying goodbye in Texas that makes me emotional. The rest of Sunday was spent with the family. We hit up a big annual art fair. I was really hoping to find something cool, but nothing really caught my eye. Dinner is something I still haven't lived down. Ken has been trying g to get me to go for Indian for dinner for years. We went once and it was not a good experience for me. Recently I told him I'm willing to try again, but not just yet. Sunday night, we all went out for Indian. It was posted online when we got to the restaurant and within minutes, I got an angry text message from Ken. I am now at his beck and call for when his next craving for Indian hits and I can't say no.
Sunday was an early night. Everyone was exhausted and I had to be up at 4:30 on Monday to get showered and back to the airport in time. I'm happy I headed out as early as I did because it took forever to get through security. There was no traffic on the road that morning because I think everyone in Austin was in the security line. It didn't really occur to me that Monday morning would be a heavy travel time, but of course it is. It's a hell of a lot of business travel.
But it's Wednesday now, I'm still exhausted and I've been nursing a sore throat since I got back. And I've been basking in the afterglow of this weekend, spending time with family and expanding my circle of amazing friends