Dear Austin, I am Emotionally Cheating on You
“I love you Austin, but we’re growing apart emotionally. I can feel it. You can feel it. I’ve been spending time in another city, and I think I’m falling in Love”.
That’s how I would start my “Dear John” letter to Austin. I’m not ready to write that letter yet, but as empty-nesters and longtime Austinites, Sylvia and I have in fact been spending a lot of time at our place in Wimberley.
As I was surfing through my XM Radio channels the other day, I happened across a “relationship” show on which a caller and the host were discussing whether the caller’s friendship and time spent with a man not her husband constituted “Emotional Cheating“. The conclusion was that it did, and she needed to stop it.
If I were to call into that same show and describe mine and Sylvia’s time spent with Wimberley since early August, our weekends at our cabin, swimming and canoeing on Cypress Creek, walks to Blue Hole preserve and to the Wimberley Square coffee shop, and ask if that time spent constitutes “Emotionally Cheating” on Austin, then we’d be guilty as charged!
How did this happen? Let’s imagine a conversation between me and a confused Austin, wondering if I still love it:
Austin: So you spent another weekend with that other town – what’s her name – Wimberley?
Me: Yes, I don’t deny it.
Austin: Do you love her?
Me: I’m not sure yet, maybe. We’re just friends, but I think I’m falling in love.
Austin: Do you still love me!?
Me: Yes, of course. I’ve always loved you and always will. But you’ve changed. And I’ve changed.
Austin: What do you mean?
Me: Well, frankly my dear, you’re not the easy going laid back hippy chick city I fell in love with. You’ve become an expensive, pretentious, high maintenance city. Most of my time spent with you just feels like a bullshit hassle, if I’m being perfectly honest.
Austin: I guess I can’t argue with that.
Me: Can we stay friends?
Seriously though. I had Jury Duty last week. Just getting into downtown Austin and trying to park raised my blood pressure. Even from our close-in location in SW Austin. I mean, even the allowed duration and cost of parking changes from block to block, sign to sign. I literally had to stand there and study the sign, double check the curb, and make sure I wasn’t about to do something for which I’d be ticketed before I could safely pay my “max” 4 hours and head to the courthouse. What a freaking BS hassle.
There are no parking meters in Wimberley, And we can simply walk “downtown” from our cabin.
I had to drive to Leander earlier this week to move a new tenant in. Round trip from my office near Mopac/Bee Caves to Leander and back was over two soul sucking hours in Mopac gridlock, even mid-morning. And drivers just keep getting ruder and less courteous as the Austin traffic gets worse.
But I don’t want this to be a big “dump on Austin” story. Austin has issues, and she knows it.
No single issue or “one thing” is the deal breaker for me, but the cumulative effect of Austin’s growth and gross failure to plan for it has made it a more complicated and difficult place to live and navigate. It’s not the city I fell in love with first visit in 1985. I don’t feel the same honest to god “delight” I once felt as an Austinte. It’s a harder place to remain “chill” in the daily living of getting around and doing things.
Meanwhile, down in Wimberley, we already feel like locals. We’ve made friends without even trying. Literally just by being there.
In Ace Hardware this morning, we got personal one on one service from an older guy who took us straight to the aisle we needed. We started chatting with him about ducks and horses, and Cypress Creek.
He remembers Sylvia’s Grandmother, Sarah, who purchased the property in 1946 where we now have our weekend home. He and his friends used to sneak onto her property to swim in the creek when he was a kid. He mentioned this unprompted without knowing Sarah was Sylvia’s Grandmother or that that’s exactly where we live part time now. It’s a small town and people know people. It’s just different experiencing that.
Compare that to buying stuff at Lowes or Home Depot on Brodie. I’d rather give my money to Ace in Wimberley.
We were walking across the street last week, at the Wimberley Square, leaving Sip on the Square, our new fav coffee shop (and the location from where I’m tapping out these words right now), and some lady in a minivan shouted out her window “Hi Steve and Sylvia!”. She’s one of our new Wimberley friends.
Last Saturday Sylvia and another one of our new coffee shop friends went to the quilt show in Austin together. She’s been to our place a couple of times now and has invited us to hers. We haven’t been inside any of our neighbor’s homes in Western Oaks, nor they in ours. I’m not sure why not. We’re not unfriendly people and neither are our neighbors. But we’re all just “driveway friends” who wave and talk if we’re both outside. It seems like that next step of “come on over” just happens more easily in a slow, lazy small town environment.
It almost feels like our experience in Wimberley is straight out of one of those Hallmark made-for-TV RomCom movies set in a small town. You know, the gut wrenchingly bad ones where the mean uptight city gal is forced to return to her tiny home town to help with a family issue. And there she butts heads with the scruffy hunk who drives a tow truck each time they cross paths in the quaint town square – until they eventually fall in love. And the people are quirky and the acting really bad.
I thought those scripts, plot lines and characters were “only in Hollywood”, but this small town, here in Wimberley, really is like that. The people are so nice and it’s so relaxed and simple.
It’s the perfect combination of laid back locals and weekend tourists. It possesses an unquantifiable quality and charm. An authenticity, similar to what Austin use to feel like.
That said, it’s not without its small town politics and issues. But compared to what Austin has become, it’s a stark difference.
Will we “divorce” Austin? No. Will we continue this “emotional affair” with Wimberley? Yes.
We have houses in Austin, connections, our business, family and roots. Sylvia is a 5th generation Austinite. Both of our daughters are born and raised Austinities. My Mom lives in Austin too. There is still much to love about Austin and its people, and we don’t want to leave it. But we’re not going to stop the “emotional cheating” with Wimberley anytime soon.
We may end up with a “City” house and a “Country” house permanently. But right now, if Austin threw down an ultimatum – “it’s Wimberley or me – pick one of us”… Well, sorry Austin. It’s not me, it’s you…