A second city. A home away from home.
I’ve seen a lot of cities in my life, but none have left me quite as enamored as Austin, Texas. From my first visit at the age of 21, swooning over the vintage shops that lined South Congress, hunting down unofficial Austin City Limits showcases held in dimly lit, low-ceilinged bars, I was hooked. And I had no idea just how often this city would come into my life. Last weekend marked visit seven for me and I fear I might be turning into one of those broken record, much-maligned-by-locals out-of-towners, who’s constant refrain of “I’d live here if it weren’t for the heat!”garners nothing but eyerolls. Austin has come to feel like second nature, the streets and storefronts shifting slightly with each visit, but always radiating a feeling of home. Or, home away from home.
It surprises me that, after a few smaller locales close to where I grew up, this is the city I feel most connected and aligned with. That, as someone who knows what -20 degrees with wind chill feels like, a place where sky-high temps are de rigueure. Hot, sure, but comfortable. Maybe it’s the sheer otherness of it all. Texas, wide and expansive, all sky, a far cry form the small and condensed states that compose the Northeast. Socked in by mountains and rocky shores. While my visits have overlapped Austin City Limits a couple of times in the past, this was my first time actually attending the festival, and it may be my favorite experience with Austin and festivals thus far. There were the acts I knew and was excited to see — Tame Impala, Kurt Vile, Borns — but as someone who tends to listen to the same thing, on repeat, forever, what made this particular festival stand out was attending it with Jana, whose taste in music can be quickly summed up as the opposite of mine. Discovering the acts that she was excited for opened entirely new doors. Disclosure? Had I attended solo I likely would have skipped their closing set, but instead my mind was blown. Glass Animals? My running playlist will never be the same. ACL was a lesson in discovery for me, all set against the backdrop of silvery, glittering Austin. After a few years of stagnation, I returned to Philadelphia with my passion for music — live music — reignited. Maybe we all need that second city in our lives, that home that might not ever be home. To reignite, to rediscover, so we can return to our lives passionate again and excited about the next adventure.
+ Do you have a city you feel connected to? Please share!