while i was home for christmas i went out for sushi with f. during the spicy tuna i asked him why he’s lived in houston his whole life. “how come you never moved away from here?” i said.
“i’ve thought about it,” he said. “for awhile i thought i wanted to live in san francisco.”
“yeah. but i like living here in houston. my family’s here. there’s a lot of cool stuff to do. and i think houston has the best people.”
“i liked living here, too. but no matter where i am i want to move somewhere else. i always think things will get better if i pack up my stuff and move to a different town.”
“you did that, though.”
“yeah, and it didn’t work. i thought it would, but it turns out my problems had more to do with me than where i was living. i’m what’s wrong with me. sometimes i want to move away again, but i’m afraid that wherever i go, i’ll show up too and ruin everything.”
“and you probably will show up.”
“i know. everywhere i go, damn, there i am.”
when i decide how i feel about a place, i don’t think about whether or not i belong in that place. i think about whether or not that place belongs to me. austin isn’t mine. it doesn’t belong to me the way it does to other people–the other people who look comfortable walking down its streets, who appear at home in its bars and parks and coffeehouses. i’ve never been able to get comfortable here, but i can’t quantify those feelings the way that f. can. austin just isn’t mine.
in a place that’s mine, i never have trouble finding my way around. everything looks like it’s in exactly the right spot–this shop or cafe over here, that bus stop there on the corner. a right and a left and another left and i’m exactly where i wanted to be all along. i felt this way in london, in marfa, in st. louis. but not in austin.
it’s a cop-out, in a way. by dismissing this town based on a feeling and a semi-arbitrary set of rules, i’ve released myself from the burdensome task of trying to like it here. creating semi-arbitrary sets of rules to release myself from burdensome tasks is one of the things i do best. that’s the me that’s what’s wrong with me. and here i am in austin, showing up to ruin everything.