Travelling Such a Distance Makes it Near Impossible to Hold All of This in One’s Hands

Everyone knows that moving to a new city can be stressful. There is the actual lifting and relocating of all your valuables, coordinating said moving with kind-hearted helpers, reserving a truck and/or storage space, and then finding a job/apartment/etc. in the new location. Add to that moving to a city completely foreign to you and you can top it all of with finding like-minded individuals, places to go/eat/drink, and general cultural differences. I am fully aware of all these things as I have moved countless times. This time, however, it is the location that is something altogether different.

As you may or may not know I have moved to Austin, Texas. As you also may or may not know I had never been to Austin, nor Texas for that matter, in my life. Why move from the Midwest, you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons:

  • I feel that living in the Midwest my entire life has made me a little too comfortable. I know the dialects, the inter-state feuds (Indiana vs. Kentucky, Indiana vs. Michigan, Indiana vs. Ohio, but for some reason I am unaware of an Indiana vs. Illinois), and how to get to many, many places of interest via short cuts.
  • I am through with winter. The four seasons are nice but the best city in the Midwest to live in, Chicago, only really has

    Chicago winter. If there is a god this is when he turns his back.

    three: blistering summer (one to two weeks), frigid winter (months on end), and the rest of the year which simply entails spring/fall weather and a rarely sunny sky. What always got me was the winter, though, and that goes especially for Chicago. Standing and waiting for the bus, which would always take longer than expected ESPECIALLY in the biting winter, while the snot stuck frozen to your face only to board an overcrowded, grumbling bus took some years off of my life. Knee deep snow forced everyone indoors for long, unhealthy periods of time. I feel that I permanently lost some of my social skills during these times.

  • The anger and hatred in Chicago is nearly overwhelming, including that of my own. The violence there is no mystery to anyone, but the attitude of the general public is something truly to behold. A few days before I left the city for good, for instance, there were two elderly women in a screaming match that simply entailed, “FUCK YOU!” “NO, FUCK YOU. BRING IT ON!” “YOU COME HERE YOU FUCKING BITCH…YOU HOMELESS WORTHLESS SACK OF SHIT…,” etc. I found myself shrugging it off and just passing

    Jackson Blvd. The obvious place to kill your once-loved one.

    by, which alarmed me. In another episode close to my departure was a woman running down the middle of Jackson Blvd. downtown screaming while a man chased her yelling, “I’m gonna kill you bitch! You’re dead, you bitch!” After failing to do so he meandered back from whence he came telling all of the passers-by, “Yeah, you heard me. You heard what I said.” I looked around and actually saw people laughing at the drama and, worst of all, found myself joining in on the laughter. When one sees scenes like this almost daily it becomes easier and easier to brush it off…to transform society into a bunch of numbers and beings that do not affect you. I had become that which is the complete opposite of myself, one without compassion. This does not make for a healthy mindset plain and simple.

So, Austin it was. I wanted to move somewhere without a winter but was also affordable. A thriving arts and music scene would be great, too. Though the decision was easy, the transition has not been.

Luckily I had saved up ample money for the move because with things like this surprises always come about. For instance, I lived in a hotel for two weeks while apartment hunting. Anyone should know that that is a long, and pricey, stay in a place that will never, ever feel like any sort of home. They took care of myself and Emma well enough. They gave her a bag of treats and a bandanna to wear and they gave me a bill that was larger than anything I’ve ever paid at one time (until I bought my car, that is). They knew me by name everywhere. The bartender once said, “Wow. You’re still here.” The guy in the restaurant knew how I took my coffee. The front desk asked about Emma and never myself. I was never so happy to hand over multiple checks to a landlord.

Now that I have a place, car, and a semi-regular job the final step, the hardest step, is upon me. I have no close friends. I am not the social butterfly type by any means but the isolation and and near-loneliness has been affecting me more great than I thought it would. Yesterday was a memorable time for that.

I awoke and started my morning ritual. Turning the coffee grinder on, I was reminded that I am almost out as it revved the engine to unsafe RPMs without the hard cherry pits to slow its movement. Shit. I gulped the last of it and paced. And looked through records. And looked at Emma. And then retreated back to bed for an unneeded nap. Sleep didn’t come. Just a mass of jelly thoughts spread over my entire psyche…was this the right decision? With no food in my system a confusion washed over me as to what to do to remedy this. I decided upon a cafe in the neighborhood that seemed slightly promising…except that it was all vegetarian. No matter, I thought, and sat in the booth thumbing through The Onion as is my habit in public places when dining alone. As I began eating, the charm on my necklace, my good luck Turkish evil eye given to me by a dear friend from Turkey, simply fell off. I fished it out of my shirt and then worried what in the hell could this be a sign of.

I ventured back home and then off to work. Work is at a restaurant that is something akin to what I’m into…good, simple, yet creative food in a laid-back atmosphere. The staff all seem very nice and into similar things as I but as we all know nearly every work environment has a social caste not that much unlike a high school that you may have been forced to start half-way through. Everyone, it seems, has a history together. I am not the type that needs to be involved in a lot, I do have a lot going on for myself, but the fact that I have trouble starting conversations about something that I can relate to rears up and punches me right in the face. This is when I drifted towards the two long-haired dudes covered in tattoos for some solace.

“I assume you’re into metal, right?” I say this from my button up/sweater combo. A sure giveaway for a hipster-metal douche. Unfortunately, one cannot begin a conversation with, “Don’t judge me by my choice of clothing…I have been listening to death metal since the age of 14…”

“Yeah.”

“You going to that Shrinebuilder show tonight?”

“Oh, yeah man. It’s gonna be awesome. Total supergroup.” And then he proceeded to list off the incorrect bands that they were from.

Not wanting to be that guy I bit my tongue and continued. “I’ve never been to Emo’s. What’s the lowdown?”

He told me the gist and then walked away. That was good enough, I thought. A sure beginning to something. I haven’t talked to the guy since. He seems nice enough, sure, but he probably assumes that we have nothing in common which is fair enough. I am thankful, however, that I don’t have any sort of self-image issues…I would be even more of a wreck now. I do thoroughly enjoy my own company and thinks everyone should also. If not, meh. Not my problem. It doesn’t solve my lack of a circle of any kind, though, which I know will come with time.

I did not even make it to the show, after all. I was on my way out the door with keys in hand. It was Emma’s face that kept me home. In her sorrow-filled brown eyes I saw my own face distraught at these new surroundings, the lack of familiarity (she was best buds with the neighbors and many others in the Chicago area), and a general loneliness as I had been at work for five hours. So at home I stayed, listening to records, wrestling with her, and staying up late watching a surprisingly good movie.

I am fully aware of this post’s uncharacteristic downer quality and do not plan to relay it again and again in the future. As is fully aware to anyone reading I haven’t had that connection with someone that I can really talk to so it is here that I have gotten it off of my chest and into the warm, sunny air of the internet. Time will pass and things will happen whether I am confused and in a mental lull or not, I am aware. There have been many positives involved with this move, too, and some interesting stories which will be shared at a future date (including my first visit to a strip club, which just reassured my reasoning for never wanting to go to one in the first place).

Here’s to a warm winter and a Christmas that includes beers on a patio. Suck it, Chicago.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Travelling Such a Distance Makes it Near Impossible to Hold All of This in One’s Hands”
  1. Rachael Resist says:

    I’ve been seriously contemplating moving to Austin for the last several months. While reading this I began second guessing said move until I came to the last two sentances, at which point, everything was put back into perspective.

    Besides, you can make friends easier while on a patio in the sun than while hibernating in the frigid, snowy, dark.

  2. Alan S says:

    It’s easy to paint a place with a pretty wide brush, but sooner or later reality will have its say. The happiest people on the planet don’t live in a sunny place with “nice” weather. They live in gray, rainy, cool Denmark. If Chicago has something wrong with it, it’s that more people here don’t feel blessed for living in a city that is full of diversity, jaw-dropping architecture, fantastic restaurants, real neighborhoods that don’t demand automobiles to navigate and food that can be sustainably grown, as well as water (which will only grow in importance in the coming years).

    When I was young I was disillusioned with the North and so went South for school. I learned that for me, happiness is not found in “nice” weather. While the South on the surface is marked by “nice” people, just see what they do when you violate one of their rules. It’s not coincidence that Texas executes and imprisons the highest number of people or has the dirtiest air and water in the country. Or that they’ve been known to drag black men from the bumpers of pickup trucks or break down the doors of gay sodomizers & toss them in the clinker.

    Scratch below the surface, and every place has its good and bad points, but there’s no magical place to live. It’s long been suggested that the reason San Francisco has one of if not the highest suicide rate is because it’s billed as the best place to be.

    In the end, maybe it’s our expectations and outlooks that cause unhappiness, and not the places themselves.

  3. Alan,

    It may seem like I was wanting to destroy Chicago as a whole or that I completely hate the place. And I can understand how that could come across as such. That is not at all the case. I need to write a post about all the things that I love about that fair city.

    And I am aware that location does not bring happiness. I am, however, excited to no end to have a warm (compared to Chicago) winter and just can’t contain myself.

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