New York is freezing. Austin is flip-flops. And I realize, like the damn song goes, "love the one you’re with." It’s kind of a crap song, urging you to forgo love for what’s in near reach. "If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with." Ouch. I’d really hate to find out I’m "the one you’re with,"living in the land of Close Seconds. But when it comes to a town, few are offended, and I realize I live it.
I chose Austin, despite thinking of it as my second choice. I’m a New Yorker living in Texas, but when does that stop? When do I become a Texan? I can’t imagine ever. But if I stay, if I’m here for the next ten years, then what? I originate from New York but choose Texas? See, it doesn’t sound right, even though that’s exactly the way it is. I guess I see Texas as temporary, even though it’s the first time I’m putting down roots and planting things in my own soil.
When I lived in New York, in the snow and biting cold, when the wind and temperature were prohibitive to going outside, I made the most of it, loving the one I was with. I drank Whiskey, neat, as I became sloppy, and I listened to Radiohead’s live version of "Karma Police" on repeat, sometimes at home in front of my computer, sometimes on his sofa as he tried to impress me with his acoustic guitar. The cold weather is an excuse to have sex, repeatedly. To build a fire, or at least (because who the hell has a working fireplace in Manhattan?) sprint past townhouses that smell of crackling wood on your way to the market. It’s an excuse to eat gobs of French Onion Soup with giant croutons, to eat goat cheese and onion tarts while reading the paper. To wear his socks and clothes, to steal his favorite sweatshirt. To eat at the bar at ‘Cesca, dragging crusty sourdough through a pool of polenta with wild mushrooms, to drink big reds and to swirl them. Rosemary and salt. Cheeks as pink as steak. To bake two kinds of cookies. And you complain together, imagining your next vacation, warming her hands in yours. And it’s not that bad, until you go outside again, promising one day you’ll move somewhere warmer. Then you run from the cab into "the place" without a coat because you can’t be bothered with coat check, and you brunch hungover with mimosas, or if you’re a real woman, a Bloody Caesar, or fuck the pretense, a martini. Then you spend the rest of the afternoon at the movies, hopping. Then you drink something steamy and watch strangers at coffee tables, warming in their lives, so different, but the same, as yours.
In Austin right now, it’s become spring. I had a friend who once, when considering where in the world she’d be willing to live, said, "I don’t think I could live anywhere that didn’t give me immediate access to SAKS." She’d now be happy to move to Austin, now that women’s apparel has extended beyond Ann Taylor to Barnes Co-Op, thanks to the opening of The Domain (an outdoor shopping experience… aka, another mall, only this time with Tiffany’s, Neiman Marcus, and Intermix.) SXSW is on the lip of things. Cocktail parties with cocktail dresses and cute handbags. Floral kerchief dresses, empire tieback waists. A rig of scarf. Bangles, and peep-toe heels. There’s room for fashion now, because when it’s too damn cold, you layer and stop caring. Occasionally you’ll make room for tights and knee-high boots. But at the end of the day, you’ll beg for him to unzip you and wrench them off, hurling them heavy into your closet, as you lie, exhausted, on your bed, kind of begging in a whine. "Make it go away,"the cold in your bones, the exhaustion from living. When it’s warm, you eat salads as entrees, drink Pellegrino beneath green awnings and slurp oysters as you sit with white tablecloths and white wine, your shoe dangling from the tip of your foot. You add a wedge of lemon to your Coke and have picnics on blankets with squirrels. You eat shrimp cocktail and order stone crabs with mustard sauce. You begin to use lotions that promise to add, "glow."And as Elle Woods as it is, you feel like a human being again because you’ve found time to get a damn pedicure, for the first time in about seven months. And you marvel at what a difference it makes, how the salon really can fix it, no matter how bad it seems. In unseasonably warm weather, you laugh at the weather report in New York, and you realize you’re still a bitch. And you toast to it. Because if you were in New York, you’d make the most of that too, keeping warm with the ones you’re with.