Well, hello there
My it’s been a long, long time
How am I doin’?
Oh, I guess that I’m doin’ fine
It’s been so long now but it seems now
That it was only yesterday
Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away …
— the prophet willie nelson
I drove through Austin yesterday. Theoretically I should have driven through it Monday, but I found myself on a fancy tollway that allows you to drive 300 mph through the countryside without coming within 20 miles of any signs of civilization. I’m waiting on the Hertz bill for that one. But yesterday, it was straight up good ol’ I-35 through the heart of Austin, for better or worse.
Rick and I, small-town boys who had never been on a major freeway, were first terrified by I-35 when we were young. For two aspiring hippies from West Texas, Austin was the Holy Grail. Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, the Soap Creek Saloon, Whole Earth, the Armadillo World Headquarters. It was perfect.
It was the place I always wanted to live. And then I did. The music, the running trails, the food, the far left counterculture, it was everything I wanted.
And then I had to move. When I came back many years later, it had changed. It still sorta looked the same, although a little older, but it’s fading now. The soul is missing. It’s odd to look at it now through the prism of my memories and realize it will never be what it was back then. I miss it. And there’s nothing I can do.
I guess aging is like that. The test this week wasn’t good. He looks the same, that guy who dragged me up on stage to meet Willie Nelson and loaned me his American flag shirt whenever I wanted to drive Dad nuts. But he’s fading slowly, like the Austin scenery.
I still go to Austin now and then. Mo and I make the South Congress loop, Mo spray paints some graffiti, we hit up the Magnolia Cafe. It’s not the same. The thing I loved is gone, a victim of time. But what else can you do? You hang around and cherish the memories while shaking your fists at the gods who let things come to this.
I always wanted to go back to those days when we were driving on I-35 for the first time, terrified. And here I am, driving on I-35. And I’m terrified indeed.
Life is funny …