Today: Going to Austin, Texas

9:18 AM:

I’m sitting at Gate B34 at the Pittsburgh Airport. Not too long ago, I walked past a statue of George Washington and a T-Rex skeleton. I love that pretty much every airport has random art like that. It makes me feel like I’m at a theme park. So do the long lines.

I’ve gone through many a TSA security check, but something happened today that’s never happened before: the agent had to empty my water bottle. Somehow, every time I’ve flown in the past, that never happened. I always knew it wasn’t allowed but I had gotten away with it so many times I figured one more try would go just as smoothly.

The drive here from the rural Pennsylvania town I live in was outrageously awful. A typical drive to Pittsburgh for me is 90 minutes, which is what I was expecting this time around too. Ironically, I even thought the drive might be a bit shorter because I was leaving at 6 AM. Surely, I thought, there won’t be much traffic at that early hour! Oh, how wrong I was. It took an extra 40 minutes to get to the airport.

This is how I felt in Pittsburgh today.

Also, it was cold. The temperature outside is in the teens right now, and the wind is painful. I hate Pennsylvania winters. It felt like The Revenant starring Leonardo Dicaprio was my real life. And I was Leo. He and I are basically the same person, except he is handsome and talented and wealthy. At the airport parking lot, waiting for the shuttle to arrive was hell, and then the warmth inside the shuttle was bliss.

I listened to the radio the whole ride up. News of David Bowie’s passing was rampant, but only the news of it—I was really hoping to be hearing lots of David Bowie songs all over the radio, but only one station even  seemed to be occasionally playing his songs. That man was awesome, and it’s kind of great that he literally released a new album, his 25th one, in the very last days of his life. I mean, do you think you could make a new album while dying of cancer? Yeah, didn’t think so. I couldn’t either. But David Bowie did it. He was amazing.

Anyway, I’ll be boarding the plane soon, so I’m going to go pee now and then hopefully I’ll have the chance to write again after having a lovely day in Austin.

4:50 PM

My Uber driver, Winston.

I’m in Texas! For the first time ever! I got an Uber after I landed, and was driven to my Airbnb, which is where I am now. My Uber driver was named Winston. He was Puerto Rican and has been living in Austin for 4 years. He also looked just like Derek Zoolander (sadly did not speak like him). He told me that he completely loved this town, and that the people make it amazing because they are “so chill.” That’s what I was hoping to hear. He was a nice person, as Uber drivers tend to be.

When I was in Pennsylvania this morning, it was 15 degrees out and snowing, with terrible wind gusts. Right now in Austin the temperature is in the 50s, and that’s the coldest it will be this week. We’re looking at 60s for the rest of the week. This is how I like my winters.

Right now I am going to unpack a bit and then explore the heck out of this city. I’ve wanted to visit here, badly, for about four years or so. This is such a long-overdue trip and I AM BLOWING UP with excitement.

9:24 PM

For the past four hours, I have been walking all over town. It was partially out of desire and partially out of need—I had to embark on an epic mission to the Trader Joe’s, about 3 miles away, so that I could buy some groceries for the week.

I was very unsurprised to look at the map after I had begun my journey and see that there was another grocery store very close to the place where I’m staying. That’s the sort of thing that happens to me. There were also multiple small groceries in town called “Royal Blue,” and they have a very limited selection and are expensive AF for no reason.

This was the most exciting place I went to today.

At Trader Joe’s, when I checked out, the cashier asked me how I was doing and I guess I was jet-lagged or just exhausted or something because my answer was super awkward. I’m like that sometimes. “I’m, uh, not from here, so… like, I’m in town for one week, and, uh, so.”

One of my bigger personal goals is to learn how to speak and act with confidence, regularly and always, whether I’m talking to a cashier or working with students at my job. I do have the word “confidence” tattooed on my arm, so I kind of need to have it, exhausted or not.

Tomorrow, expect me to write about my immediate first impressions of this city. I’ve had some good adventures already and I’ll be writing about them throughout the week, so stay tuned.