8: Austin (Someone Else’s Boyfriend)

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The Dirty, West 6th and Rainey are just a few of the many places and lingo that I picked up while on my fun filled and entirely too brief visit to Austin, Texas. I often refer to Chicago as “someone else’s boyfriend” but now that I’m done being in denial I guess it’s time to call him mine. Let’s refer to Chicago as the rebound. Austin, on the other hand, is very much someone else’s boyfriend. My friend Ashleigh’s to be exact. He’s her very hot (and I mean that quite literally), very southern, mildly hipster boyfriend. She’s lived there just over a year and after raving about how fantastic he is I couldn’t help but take a weekend trip to see for myself. What was very different about Austin is how much less country it was than Dallas. After living in Dallas for a few months I wouldn’t go as far to say I categorized the state but I thought I had a pretty basic idea of what each city could have to offer. Cowboy boots, a combination of Latinos and southern belles, pickup trucks, farms, dive bars, friendly faces and a lot of land. I couldn’t have been anymore inaccurate. Austin, or ATX, in itself is its own little nugget that is very different from the usual cowboy-esque persona that comes along with the name Texas. About 55% of the men had beards, there were zip cars on every road, and ample amounts of trendy bars.

I noticed this as we drove around the city once she picked me up from the airport. Downtown was cute, small, updated, and more modern than I’d imagined. The buildings all had their Texas charm of course, but there were food trucks turned into restaurants, cute houses turned into businesses and a lot of people that ranged between the ages of 21 – 30. As a whole, Austin was a lot younger than I’d pictured. A perfect combination of county and trendy and it was rather enjoyable.

Being hungry after the plane ride was something I was used to so I told her to take me somewhere good to grab a bite to eat. Naturally her first suggestion was a taco place, Torchy’s Tacos. I’m not typically into Mexican food but I can’t resist trying different cuisines while in other cities. The tacos were a little more TexMex than what I was used to but that’s probably why I thought it was so satisfying. Once we got back to Ashleigh’s apartment we relaxed, caught up, and enjoyed being lazy before venturing off toward Rainey.

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Rainey is very much a college part of the city. Well to be fair I feel like most bars are a college part of the city considering how huge the University of Texas is. We went out with a couple of her friends she met after the move and they couldn’t have been more welcoming and eager to show me a good time. Rainey is where we spent the entirety of our Friday night. Most of the places reminded me much of the architecture that I’d seen when I first arrived. It was rather comparable to a few places I went to in Dallas only more updated with a lower age median. The roads were mostly loose gravel and nearly every bar had an outdoor patio reminiscent of a backyard. It was reassuring and I could see how anyone, especially someone fresh out of undergrad, can find comfort in a place like Austin.

The next morning instead of spending money on going out to eat we decided to make a nice breakfast before exploring the city. It was a hot 98 degrees, minus the Lachey brothers, and it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as they would have been. I’m not a fan of the heat but considering we were going to the Texas State Capitol, I didn’t mind at all. The building was the first capitol that I’d ever visited and I must say it left quite an impression. Upon arrival I’d learned that it was in fact the largest capitol in the US, and after I entered the building I could see why. The floors are marble that lead you into a dome-like room with the Texas star in the center of the ceiling as you look five stories up.

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Each floor has several hallways that lead you through separate corridors with the offices of government officials, as well as historic rooms that are sealed off with tape in which you could only view. The House of Representatives was possibly my favorite as it featured a picture of the original room in black and white while the room was set up nearly the same. It was great to see how some things never change even when they do. After we wandered through nearly every corridor and decided we would email someone about renting a room to live there, we left to walk through the courtyard. We took more than a few obnoxious pictures and checked out the Governor’s house (not THE Governor for you TWD fans) before we headed back to the car.

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When we left and I got my monthly dose of history, we went to this place called Castle Hill. The area is right outside of downtown and it’s where someone began building a castle but never finished. So instead of tearing it all down and using the space for another property, they kept the construction as is and people began to graffiti art all over it. The area was incredibly awesome, very intriguing with some impressive artwork that was constantly being painted over. Having to climb and crawl to the top, I was extremely impressed with how beautiful the place was. Near the bottom at the edge, there was a man in a food tuck type set up that took pictures of the art as people painted them. He printed, framed, and sold them on the property to tourists like myself while offering free bottles of water in exchange to check out his gallery. I couldn’t help but walk out with the last Marilyn Monroe picture that I later gifted. Regardless of the fact that anyone could do this, it was very convenient and decently priced.

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Later that night, after a much deserved nap, we journeyed to West 6th and the Dirty. I could go into detail about our night but the only conclusion it’ll bring you to is that we had a lot of fun. A different kind of fun than the night before. There were more people, better music, less games, more dancing, and much hotter; the weather not the people.

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At the end of the night we wound up walking further than we’d planned to get back to the car as we reminisced about when Jon B was still relevant (1998 if you were wondering). During this process they managed to drag me to Whataburger. I refuse to think any fast food burger is as good as In ‘N’ Out but once I gave in after pouting about it for ten minutes I must say it is a worthy contender.

Sunday proved to be very exhausting. The day itself wasn’t exhausting but after touring and sightseeing for two days in the heat, I was very much ready to relax for a while. We went to brunch at Swifts which was this really cute restaurant in downtown ATX.

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All of us ordered a couple mimosas before going to lay by the pool and relax in air conditioned comfort prior the heading back to the airport. I’m interested to see if Texas is just as hot in the middle of December and I can’t help but have a slight crush on Ashleigh’s very interesting, mildly trendy, and always entertaining new boyfriend.

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