alternate views

finding your hometown

In preparation for New Orleans, last night I started (re)reading Interview With the Vampire.  I’ve tried to read this book about three times, but right now I’m out of books, so I’m starting on this one again.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Austin, and why I like living here so much.  Having moved around so much as a kid, I’m not really used to staying in one place for so long, and every once in a while I feel like I’ve been here too long.  Where would I go if I wasn’t here?  Eric and I really fell in love with San Francisco, and my memories of it always involve the stoop where Eleanor and Eric and I talked that first night in town.  It’s the view from there that I always remember when I think of San Francisco.  You could sit there and just see so much of the city.  I remember how I sat down and Eric sat down (we’d been off the plane about two hours) and Eric turned to me and said, “How much do you love this city?”   It was nice that we were thinking the same thing.

But San Francisco is pricey, so we just kept promising we’d save up.  We’d keep saving up and one day we’d go there.  But is that the right city for two actors?   Just read a little ellipses and you can see how frustrating it could be.  Eric wanted to move to New York.  Then he wanted to move to L.A.  Then we went to L.A. and I sort of got disillusioned.  I think it made Eric want to move there more.  I got the City Hunter gig, which is keeping me here for at least another year to finish dubbing all of the episodes.

New York?  L.A.?  New York?  L.A.?  Chicago?

I went to Aspen, where everyone told me to go to L.A.  That New York didn’t make movies, L.A. made movies.  You want to do comedy?  Go to the Groundlings.  SNL isn’t going to look at you unless you’ve done the Groundlings or Second City.  Second City?  Chicago?  “You might like Chicago.  Then again, you could hate it.”

That’s endorsement enough to make anyone start packing, right?

So we stopped talking about moving again.  But last night I was watching HBO Zone, trying to decide what the channel is for when there was a quick ad with some girl blabbing on and on about being an NYU student who had just moved to the city from Miami and she loved it.

If she can make it there, couldn’t I?  Am I a New York girl?  I don’t know.  But there’s something about the sentence, “Back when I was living in New York…”

So for ten minutes last night I was ready to pack up and move.

Go where the work is, right?  The problem is we get work right here in town.  I often talk about how Austin has everything I want.  We’re a college town, so things are open late.  We can smoke in bars.  There’s a lake, a hockey team (where tickets are six dollars), lots of movie theaters, lots of theatre, comedy, a mini Bourbon Street, a capitol building, swimming holes, hills and flatland, neighborhoods and apartment complexes, high tech jobs, and big city living in a small town.  Why would I want to go anywhere?  I think that if I had come from somewhere else I’d be happy to have found Austin.  But I started out here, so is this where I’d like to be for a while?

Whenever I travel and people find out I’m from Austin I usually get one of two things said to me:  “Oh, I love Austin!  I can’t wait to go back there.”  Or:  “I have a cousin/sister/friend who lives there.  I hear it’s the coolest place on Earth.  I’ve been saving up to move there.  One day I will.”

So if everybody’s trying to come here, why do I feel like I should be leaving?

But not every day.  I really am happy here.  And because I’m a paranoid freak, whenever I feel like I’m pretty happy somewhere, my little voice starts asking me if I’m really happy or I”m making myself think I’m happy.

But I think, really, I’m really happy here in Austin.  Really.  It feels like my home town, too, which is nice.  I’ve never had a real town loyalty before.   And I’m such a sucker for views.  Whenever I think about a place where I lived, it’s a skyline that comes to mind.  My memory of Houston is when you’re driving off I-10 right into downtown on your way to the museum and the skyline comes up over the hill and you see the Transco Tower… My memory of St. Louis is always driving by the Gateway Arch and wondering if I’m ever going to go in it.  The second time we lived in St. Louis I remember the field behind our house where rabbits used to run around and I’d think about Watership Down.  My first memory of Pittsburgh is driving past the Three River Stadium on a bridge.  Palm Springs is the view of Palm Canyon Drive from the second floor of Fuddrucker’s Hamburgers.  Los Angeles is seeing the “Hollywood” sign from the front of the HBO Workspace, just hours before we were to perform.  Connecticut is the view of the street my mother grew up on from the porch of the house she grew up in– the smell of dogs and the feel of putting propeller thingies that fell from the trees on my nose and calling myself Pinocchio.  Mississippi is the view from the roof of the little clubhouse that someone had left in our backyard, which overlooked our neighbor’s fence and the horses that would run around in their yard.

What view will I remember most if I leave Austin?  Mount Bonnell?  The view of the entire lake in front of you at Windy Point?  The sight of the tower glowing orange from I-35?  The view of the Austin skyline coming up from around a turn when you drive in from Houston?  That image has always stuck with me.  When I drove to Austin the first time to come to school my car was packed up and my parents were driving behind me with another load of belongings.  I turned that bend and saw the skyline and “She’s Leaving Home” came on the radio.

My childhood was filled with starting things over.  At one point we moved every six months.  I’ve never kept friends as long as the ones I’ve had here.  How can I say goodbye to any of these people?  I don’t want to start over again.  I don’t want to lose these people and this place that I’ve grown to call home.  But is this where I’m supposed to stay?

I don’t want all of these years to be reduced to a view.  I want to keep Austin alive for me in my head.  I want to see what happens to this town.  It’s getting huge.  We’re getting a repertory theatre and a movie studio and the work should keep coming.  Maybe I should get an agent.  Maybe I should just submit my writings, and get paid to work wherever I live.

Maybe I should just shutup and live my life.  Don’t worry so much about it.  Wait until I know it’s time to go.  Quit being such a whiny-head.

Besides, my mom will kill me if I move any farther away.  Really.

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