(Written last week, but I've only just gotten around to posting it. I'm a very busy girl.)
I have spent the last 3 days in West/Southwest Texas. You know what you do in West and Southwest Texas?
We started out on Friday. I flew into Austin, also known as My Favorite City in the United States. It's a bummer to fly into Austin and not take yoga or go to The Whole. But, everyone was waiting so Hav picked me up and we were immediately on our way. (I tried the ol' "Hey I forgot a jacket, so I should probably stop by Lululemon." He told me I'd have to freeze before we'd delay our trip any further. Or that's what I heard, anyway.)
Marfa is about seven hours, or roughly four Dairy Queens away from Austin. It is a largely flat drive, punctuated only by stops for Blizzards and chew. (I don't chew, Mom.) We arrived at Hav's friend's house, an adorable adobe on a street with no sign. This speaks more about the size of the town than the street. We unpacked our stuff, and I immediately started searching for Internet connectivity. I had a piece that I needed to post for a related article in Magazine of Yoga before 9 p.m. I walked into the home office. The router looked like no other wireless router I've seen before, and I know these things. Ugh. Hav made the mistake of suggesting that I post in the morning, which prompted an accusal from me that "You've never supported my writing!" Fortunately, he has a high threshold for my outbursts. Everyone left and I promised to catch up. Which I did, but not until I had checked every place in town for some semblance of a connection. (Whoa. That sounds woo woo.) It wasn't until I resigned myself (surrendered, if you will) to missing my deadline that I walked into the bar where my friends were waiting and found a free internet connection. Thank Krishna.
Padre's is, I think, the only bar in Marfa (pop. 2121). On Friday night, the entire town pushed Padre's to its capacity to see Black Joe Lewis, a seriously fun band from Austin. If the crowd were just a weensy bit more raucous, I think we would have seen undergarments flying. That's how good they were. Here's a little known fact about Marfa: it contains the largest concentration of hipsters per capita of any city in the United States. And if you were in Padre's that night, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a pair of Wayfarer spectacles. Not that I swung any cats, deceased or otherwise. I was too busy taking advantage of the four dollar Kettle One's w/ lemon wedges.
|Repetition. Subtlety. Whoa.|
|Lo's expression, speaking for|
On Saturday night we trekked up to the McDonald Observatory, which is about 40 minutes from town. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's the place that sponsors the Star Date vignettes on NPR. I love those Star Dates. We booked a tour for 6 p.m. When we reached the observatory, our guide, Kevin, explained a bunch of neat stuff about stars, planets, nebulas (globular and planetary), and galaxies. It was in this two and a half hour session when I realized I could have probably been good at science. (#unfounded) Mostly because I relate everything back to metaphors. For example, did you know that globular nebulas are where stars are born (kinda), while planetary nebulas are where stars go to die? I like to picture a space aged hospital and a cemetery, respectively filled with comets in bathrobes. Among our sitings: Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, M2, M15, and some other stuff. Plus they fed us cookies, which I liked. I considered the evening a success.
|The drive. Pretty, right?|
|A black bear. (Not ours.)|
(Photo courtesy of
When we returned, I grabbed my laptop and headed to the lodge, where the only wireless connectivity for 40 miles could be found. I had to. I had a conference call I was supposed to be on and we had zero cell reception. Yes, on Sunday. My life is just that awesome sometimes. I carefully chose a spot at the lodge, outside near the bathrooms, far away from anyone else so I wouldn't be that guy, and dialed my co-worker via Google Talk. Apparently, I didn't get far enough away to escape the chiding of a lodge worker who delighted in walking by several times, just to snicker. As if I go through a project plan on vacation on a Sunday in the middle of a beautiful national forest because I think it's fun, douche-kabob. When I got off my call, I went into the gift store to buy a Scrabble board. The lodge worker came in. "Finish with your call?" he smirked. And this is when I escaped into a magical dreamland. One in which I stabbed a stranger without punishment while asking him if he felt better about the choices he'd made in his life by making fun of mine. The price of the $32 game snapped me from my daydream.
After dinner we played a quick game of Scrabble and set our alarms for 6 a.m. so we could catch another hike before heading back to Austin. Unfortunately, it doesn't get light until around 7:30 in southern Texas. We didn't have time to wait around, so we decided to forego the hike. And this is where Havis vowed to never travel with me again in a million years, ever. (The first time was when we went to Norway and I made us late for our outbound flight. Oops.) The next significant town past Marathon is Ft. Stockton. We had a quarter of a tank left of gas when we hit Ft. Stockton. Hav told me to stop and get more. He said there wouldn't be gas for another 100 miles. Nuh uh, I countered. I kept driving. Turns out, he was pretty close to right. Who knew?
About 65 miles in the gas gauge was below empty. I grabbed my phone frantically searching the Around Me app for the nearest gas station. I panicked as we went in and out of reception. The screen finally displayed our choices: deviate from I-10 and drive 14 miles out-of-the-way to Iraan, or continue on 35 miles to Ozona. I chose the former, and we coasted the last few miles into town. I tried to play it off like I knew all along that we'd make it, but the truth is, I was calculating how fast I could run per mile in the event that I needed to.
By the time we made it back into Austin**, we heard news that Hav's dad had to go back into the hospital, which is really sad. Also sad was the looming knowledge that I had to get on another plane back to New Jersey within 24 hours, by way of LA. Looking back over the weekend, I recall all of the failed connectivity attempts. By the end of it, I had adjusted. I'm considering it a major breakthrough because, while Mercury's retrograde was in its shadow and I obviously would have been totally justified in making it my scapegoat, I chose instead to figure out if I could appreciate the radio silence. And while I wasn't exactly the picture of equanimity, I was better at it than I expected. And that's what I call success.
**The highlight of Monday, just after staving off certain death at the hands of my travel companion, was seeing Leslie. And busting her w/ this copy of Yoga Journal.