Saturday, August 12, 2006

message in a bottle

Help. Please help. I'm still here. Still hanging out in C's high school best friend's room-mate's bedroom, watching the Discovery Channel which during the day is the Gruesome, Tragic and Completely True! Channel. Right now it's a show about children with skin diseases.

Get me out of here. Not that everybody isn't being lovely. Treating us like freaking royalty, in fact. Stoner royalty. Anything we want -- sausage biscuits from McDonald's, an air bed, Vicodin.

C. is their Local Boy Made Good, see. The one who is actually living in the city, actually going to art school, actually in a band that plays actual shows at actual clubs, actually dating a stripper. Back home, guys fitting this description are a dime a dozen, but out here, that is Something.

C. and I went out today looking for something to do. There are abandoned fluorite mines in the mountains around here, where local kids get drunk every summer and fall down the shafts and die. I've been clamoring to go there for the last several visits, but the van has been acting funny again, and C.'s too wise a desert kid to head off into the bone-dry mountains in the middle of the day in August. We drove around town and got shuffled out of a couple of antique shops by fuzzy-haired ladies, had a really awful lunch, got iced coffee drinks at the coffee shop, and now we're back here again. Tonight we're going to see a theatrical production of modernized fairytales which will feature a former boyhood acquaintance of C's friend's room-mate as the Baker's Wife.

The scariest part is that the feeling that I am living in an alternate universe. One where I did not move to Austin, go to college, meet a lot of people very different from me, and, basically, grow up. This is what happens to people with large ideas who stay in small towns. Every day they wake up, rediscover that there is nothing to do, and just go home to crank up the air condioner and get high.

Forty-eight hours and counting. Tomorrow there are plans to go to Mexico and see a museum. Maybe. Tonight we might go out to White Sands to see the Perseid shower. If everyone feels like it. Or whatever. I feel like it could take a stick of dynamite to get us out of here. If you never here from me again, I'm at


Brad K. said...

Hmm. It seems your counting is off. In cities, you count activities by the hundreds or thousands attenting -- concerts, bars, movies, truck pulls. In other areas, you count by onesy-twoseys. Joe down the road had a stroke. Johnny up the road baled his hay. Barbara got a new dog, one of them bitty Chihuahua things, my cat could eat it any Sunday before lunch.

There are more things going on between individual people in small towns. TV is important -- it carries the weather channel. Once you get the weather for the day, the important thing is to step outside to be sure the clouds on the horizon agree with the weatherman. You double check this to be sure.

Isn't Austin (in)famous for a couple of nudist activities, an island-based landed club, and a clothing-optional apartment complex?

Check out a couple of topical movies. The recent 'Man of the House' was shot in 'Keep Austin Weird' Austin, TX. 'Mumford' looks at a few small town people with full lives.

Ask about plinking. If kids are trundling about old mines, someone out there is shooting some kind of firearm for fun. According to the author of the book 'Patriot Games' and others, target shooting can be very relaxing. Hint: The smaller the caliber, the cheaper the bullets. My ex-wife's brother-in-law had just broken his wrist the third time, plinking with a .45 magnum pistol; use both hands and ear plugs. And keep it sober around weapons and driving.

Look at the neighbors, or C.'s family. What are they doing? Ask to help with their tasks -- there is no better way to pass time, or to learn a new house/town. Think, 'What can I learn here?' If you were in the Valley Forge national monument you would have tourist maps, posted 'sights' to see, everything laid out. Think of your current 48 hours (minus) as a visit to a national place of interest.

Let people there remember your smile, not your job title.


Anonymous said...

dear grace,

you rock.