Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happiness is the Direction of my Feet

It always amazes me that in just about any big city -- with the possible exception of new york city -- it doesn't take much to find an empty street.

Austin has been no different. It's not unsettling, it just sets me to wondering where all the people are. Possibly, today, Austinites were all inside blasting their air conditioning, wondering what that fool was doing wandering about outside. Mostly it has been the cats sprawled out on porches, dogs bounding around fenced yards, grackles grackling, bats flitting about, and squirrels eyeing me with half suspicion and half hope. There are people in cars of course, but people have been rare off the main drag.

I love the heat here, wrapping one up in a warm embrace. And wandering about while the fun sunk to the horizon through neighborhoods funky, grim and wealthy and wild, watching huge thunderheads in the distance filled me with a delicious pleasure.

On a whim, I hopped in my rental and took after the cloud, driving on back woods out south of austin in the general direction of san antonio. I nearly gave up in the small town (but historically important! little stagecoach stop) of Buda. I wandered about the shuttered shop fronts waving to the only two people enjoying the evening on their porch, but caught a glimse of flashes in the distance, so hopped back in the car again and drove off.

I went further and further out and turned a few times too many so that I was beginning to wonder whether I could find my way back, but the storm kept beckoning on, flashing in the distance, pulsing in the clouds, one massive forked stroke cutting across the sky.

Alas, I was pulled back from the hunt, by a phone call, and watched it fade into the distance, turned around happily chatting and singing with myself that at least I tried.

And now I go to the bed, with live music playing across the street. It sounds good and tempting, but that storm I will catch another night.


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