Today marked the halfway point in my time line for this trip, I’m almost exactly halfway across the U.S. I’ve been eager to experience anything and everything the past twelve days, and it’s wearing me out. I thought it would be nice to take a breather and reflect on things today.
It was a perfect day in Austin. It can get over 100 degrees for long periods here, but it hovered around 80 for the duration of my stay. I kept telling people, “Man, I could really see myself living here!” And they’d reply, “Yeah, well, come out here in the summer. It’s pure hell.” Every city has some kind of flaw. I suppose its about finding one with flaws that obstruct your lifestyle the least.
Today I got out of bed slowly, got dressed slowly, and went to a cafe closest to my place to relax and eat instead of hunting for “The Best Place In Town”. I biked to a bookstore/art gallery called Foothill Books and bought The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne, The Medium Is the Message by Malcolm Gladwell, and a graphic novel called “Clumsy” by Jeffrey Brown. I went to a cafe across the street, parked myself in a patio out front and started reading. I planted there for 3 or 4 hours, just basking in the sun.
Hi there, it’s me
There was a passage I read in “The Bicycle Diaries” I felt rang true as I was riding through these cities:
Our values and hopes are sometimes awfully embarrassingly easy to read. They’re right there – in the storefronts, museums, temples, shops, and office buildings and in how these structures interrelate, or sometimes don’t. They say, in unique visual language, “This is what we think matters, this is how we live and how we play”. Riding a bike through all this is like navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind.
Each city definitely spoke to me in some way. It had its own personality, it was alive and breathing, ever changing and ever evolving. It was so exciting to me to be able to explore these nooks and crannies, and introduce myself to the people that inhabited them.
I went out for a drink with my cousin later that night and ran into a couple Damien knew and sat down together. I tend to fall into the standard questions that you ask people when you meet for the first time. I started talking about my job with the guy. He talked about his job as a photographer. I told him I work with photographers a lot, and suggested a few ways he could promote himself. Then I asked about his girlfriend’s job and she became kind of defensive about it. Rather abruptly, she yelled, “Why are you asking about my job? Why don’t you talk about your job?”
I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “I don’t know, just trying to start a conversation.” When you actually admit that’s why you asked the question, the conversation seems kind of pointless, so soon after I excused myself to leave and apologized if I offended her.
Once I stepped back and looked at what I was saying, maybe it was coming off like I was bragging or comparing our stations in life or something.
I wanted to know what I did so I wouldn’t do it again. I was hoping to hang out with my cousin and get to know him better, and felt like some some flaw in my personality kept me from doing this. I suppose situations like that can help recognize things about myself I wasn’t seeing before. It’s funny how people obsessively analyze this shit after it happens. Oh well, fuck it, you can’t please everyone.