Austin, Texas

Remember the song about Joe Austin who walked from New York to Boston? I was thinking of his walk when I arrived by train from San Antonio to Austin. On my train ride, I had observed, for the very first time, a cactus growing out of the ground. I had seen them in pots at flower shops, but this was a place where they grew wild. It was a barrel cactus growing in the sand. I felt so far from home. Upon arriving, I left my luggage at my hotel and set off to explore the downtown. The Historical Society was open and the ladies there were very welcoming and well educated. They left me with a sense of anticipation about the place. After strolling the street famous for its strip of music clubs, I stopped for lunch and had the option of getting hush puppies with my meal. I inquired of the waitress, and she nudged me good naturally and said, “Hush, you ain’t never had hush puppies before!” (Decades have passed, but I swear that is exactly what she said.) From there, I trudged about the capitol building and thought it was less than expected for the Lone Star State.

Outside, on the State House grounds, I became immersed in Civil War statuary, especially a memorial to Robert E. Lee with a stirring poem of a dream lost. That was not how I was used to viewing the Civil War, but it moved me and again reminded me that I was far from home. Just about that time, I noticed the local university was only blocks away. I saw crowds swarming toward the stadium there. Being in Texas, I just assumed it was a football game and decided this would be a good place to attend a college game. I found the box office and waited in line. As it turned out, the next football game was months away and I bought a ticket to follow the crowds into the stadium for that evening’s Crosby, Stills and Nash concert. The group’s rendition of the song, The Southern Cross, with its backdrop video of a huge Confederate flag, received a standing ovation. The people sitting next to me were extremely friendly. By intermission, I felt like we had known each other for a while. And after the concert, they even gave me a ride to my hotel, my first ride ever in a pick up truck. That was my first day in Austin. I was glad I had come to this city that was so far away from Boston.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault

TATTOO—Journeys on My Mind by Tina Marie L. Lamb is available at Amazon and BarnesandNoble and iBooks.

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