A Visitor: Stranger in a Strange Land

Written on June 22, 2017.

I recently came to the big city of Austin for a 24 hour trip and it really felt like a trip, if ya know what I mean. The longer I live out here on the land, the stranger it feels to be somewhere else. I start to feel the change as I enter into Dripping Springs, the town between where I live and Austin. The energy feels taut, more tightly wound, the air has an electric feeling and I usually start to crave a latte. Sometimes I stop at SummerMoon and get one, the coffee running through my veins, matching the buzz I feel around me.

I start to feel this hum of anticipation, excitement building about the idea of air conditioning, a bath with “endless” water, and wifi. I pull up to my parent’s house in typical suburbia and visit with them, take a long shower, put some laundry in, and do computer work. On my last visit, I marveled at the fact that I could get a haircut at Supercuts, a juice at Juiceland, and things I don’t need but want at Goodwill, all within 50 yards. The city is so convenient! It felt like a body, its own entity, with separate parts all working together to create harmony, to create society, to create a lifestyle in which people can drive to their jobs, get paid, and conveniently spend their money all within a pretty small radius. 

Photo by  Richard Casteel

As I moved around the different city organs/stores, I felt strange, like some sort of alien creature, a bug that was released from a glass jar miles from where it was captured. I also had the strange sensation that I was in a video game, or on a movie set, or even dreaming. There was a lack of realness, but the rawness was overwhelming. The concrete all around soaked up the sun and the air was suffocating. The sounds of the traffic and the music in the stores was violating and the contrast of the air conditioning with the heat outside was shocking.

But through the intensity, underneath the overwhelm, I felt happy, calm, and at peace.

I enjoyed getting my hair washed by the talkative cosmetologist Supercuts, her experienced hands massaging my head. We shared laughs about another customer stealing the magazines and how she never thought she would get back together with her ex boyfriend. I enjoyed the smell of Juiceland, a fruit utopia, and I even enjoyed getting mistaken for my twin sister for the millionth time. I loved going to over-priced Goodwill and finding a vintage crock decorated with a beautiful butterfly. I bought a wonderfully tasteless organic frozen pizza to heat up for dinner and ate Coconut Bliss ice-cream for dessert while I watched cable television. 

The next morning I woke up and did some more computer work and then said goodbye to the city. As I passed through Dripping Springs, headed home, my body began to unwind, the air around me felt more still, and the silence that greeted me as I arrived home was magnificent. Here I am sitting around half-naked, sweat dripping from behind my knees, desperately wishing our tiny freezer would hurry up and freeze the ice cubes, and yet I am happy. I am peace with the sweat and the heat, with the bugs and the increasingly shorter supply of rain water. I am calm in the silence and in the dark, and I am grateful for the contrasts that life provides.  

One of the many joys of life here, getting snagged by a tree friend by the hair!

One of the many joys of life here, getting snagged by a tree friend by the hair!