For the last three years, I have spent some time in Austin, TX during the month of January. In 2017, I was attending my friend J's bachelorette weekend. In 2018, I was flying in and out of Austin to attend J's sister's wedding. In 2019, I was there - camping at the KOA - to visit my cousin and his family and to see some of the city. Austin is pretty far from where I'm normally based and when I realized that I'd been there three Januaries in a row, I felt a kind of joyful surprise. I really love Austin.
I made my way to Austin after taking one last loop around Dallas (I saw Southfork! I drove through Deeley Plaza which made me feel very strange because it looks just like it did that fateful day) and after visiting Houston (I spent part of the final Sunday of the year at the Rothko Chapel and it really was magical).
January is one of my lowest times, generally. My mood is certainly influenced by the weather and daylight and January always manages to feel extra bleak. I always said January and February were the worst months for a school teacher. Everyone is praying for snow days. Anything to escape the utter mundanity of the day-in day-out of winter. It's part of why I hate NYE so much. Midwinter is the time when I really just want to hibernate.
I had a lovely brunch with my cousin and his family (his daughter is just the cutest little teddy bear and I am crazy about her) on New Year's Day. I had a long list of stuff I wanted to do, so I rested up the remainder of the 1st and woke up early on the 2nd planning to tackle the city. I did head out, but my plans were at least partially thwarted by a driving, chill rain that just never let up. All day long. Every time I would think I'd found a place to park or a sight to see, I'd be confronted with a walk longer than I wanted to take in the rain or a lack of room for my enormous van. In the end, I drove around a lot, ate some tex mex, and spent most of the afternoon watching Marie Kondo on Netflix.
The following day, the 3rd, proved more fruitful. I picked up some adorable cookies (and a cupcake that was, like, spectacular), ate some great pizza, saw some of the spots I'd added to my list, and felt much more successful than the day before.
I do find that I'm beginning to feel just a little bit lonely. My friends are busy with work and, I suspect, feel like I usually do this time of year and are not very interested in talking on the phone. As I headed out of Austin, I began to see just what West Texas has in store for me (lots of empty prairie and these low, flat mountains...what are those called? are they mesas?). My next stop is Marfa, TX. It's a place I've wanted to visit since I was a kid. I'm looking forward to it. But, I'm also anticipating some loneliness in a place that is, itself, very lonely.