Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Anne comes to Austin

Have you ever noticed when someone comes to visit you, you either realize all the things you love about where you live, or all the things you wish you could change?  It's almost like having a new set of eyes to show everything really reawakens you to every little detail.  The fresh perspective reminds you of all the things you take for granted, and forces you to be honest about all the things that irritate you.

My bestie from college, Anne, came to see Austin and have a 4 day friend weekend last week, and it was an amazing time!

Despite spending much of the time retailing it up, we managed to see a lot of the (in)famous parts of the city, eat at several different restaurants - including one in an Airstream trailer, enjoy the GORGEOUS weather at the lake, and give her a taste of the Austinite life.  I know I was influenced by how stunning the temperatures were, but it made me excited to be living here again, in a city with throngs of environmentally-conscious, "outdoorsy" people, who thrive on active lifestyles.  There were moments when I found myself bragging about what a great place it was to live, and how relaxed and casual, yet cultured, are the people.  We made more spontaneous conversation with complete strangers than I had in months of living here.  I love living in a friendly city.  Even if a lot of the women don't wear bras and a large majority shower less often than most Europeans.  I mean, the city slogan is "Keep Austin Weird."  If you come prepared, don't act surprised when they deliver.

I was also reminded at how many things I take for granted.  Living in a large(r) city means I have access to things a lot of other people don't: the Arts, specialty retail stores like Anthropologie, local grocers (who haven't been driven out of business by monopolizing Wal-Marts) and natural/whole foods, scenic downtown areas, designated dog parks, bike and running trails, festivals and organized city-wide activities.  There are some things about city living I would never want to give up.  As much as people drive me crazy, I like the sense of community that a city like Austin cultivates.  Not every large city inspires that individual sense of pride and ownership, but living in Austin is like being a business partner.  People put effort and care into Austin, but expect a lot back, too: from other residents, from the city officials, and from the location.  There are so many checks and balances, people making sure you're honest and do what you say you're going to do.  People take responsibility, and they are protective of their homes and neighborhoods, and supportive of their friends and neighbors.  And for the most part I find these things to be true about MOST residents.  I like that I'm not made fun of for sorting our trash and recycling, or bringing my reusable bags to the store.  Austin just seems to have a lot of good people wanting to do good things: for others and for the planet.

I'm down with that.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's noticed.  Austin was named #1 Hottest Spot to Start a Small Business by The Fiscal Times, #1 Next Big Boom Town by Forbes, and #1 Place to Live 2011 by RelocateAmerica.  That's a lot of number ones.  It's also one of the youngest, fittest, and cleanest cities.  One of the best places to find jobs, best places for college grads, and (I would know nothing about this) best places to "find love."  For both practical and impractical reasons, Austin is an "it" location.  To be perfectly honest, I'm only here for the food.

After all, we're a big-time "foodie" city now, and even Anthony Bourdain has noted our existence!

I had a really tremendously fun time in my own city, and I loved every bit of it.
So I have Anne to thank for reminding me what Austin has to offer. 

Now, if only she would move here and then it would have an Anne, as well.

Peace, weirdos.

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