love the one you’re with

New York is freezing.  Austin is flip-flops.  And I realize, like the damn song goes, "€œlove 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. 


  1. "…and you realize you're still a bitch." That you seem to know this allows you to get away with it, of that I'm sure. And unbelievably, it's somehow charming. I just love these little New York moments of yours. You help clarify the memories of Manhattan expats everywhere.

  2. You're right. For the past few days, it's been colder than a witch's tit here. But, thankfully, it's supposed to be getting warmer.

    So the fuckers say.

  3. When do I become a Texan? I was grappling (word?) with that question myself until I recently opened up the back door of my kitchen and pitched an empty beer bottle at a pesky raccoon as a last ditch effort to get it to go away. My husband and I moved from San Francisco to Austin exactly one year ago and can relate to your latest entry. San Francisco was that gorgeous model boy I dated 10 yrs ago while Austin is the one I want to grow old with…So, the beer bottle incident made me realize that I have given up red wine and steak for beer and burgers and somewhere in the process started to feel Texan.

  4. So you're not miserable because Austin is allergy central? Lucky you. I'm ready for the allergies to end. I chose Austin, too. It's a great place.

  5. Stephanie, there may not be as much glamour in the idea of being an Austinite as there was in being a New Yorker, but it sounds like it is the right place for you at this stage in your life.

    There is definitely something much more grown up and real about it, that's for sure.

    You actually grew up on Long Island if I am correct. Yet, you rarely seem to represent yourself as someone whose actual roots are in Long Island. As someone who did grow up in Manhattan, I have always wondered why that is the case with you. I mean, why not pine for snowy nights on Long Island?

    Look, you made the transition from someone whose formative years were spent in suburbia to self-proclaimed New Yorker or Manhattanite. Now you've moved to Austin, yes, TEXAS. Why not let your emotional self move with you. Fully. Enough time has passed I think.

    Austin may not encompass all the glamour of the *idea* of the Manhattan you, but it could, if you let it, polish the real you.

    All the Best!

  6. I think you will never bee Texan no matter how long you are here, and that is fine. I moved here from Chicago and after 2 years, still do not feel it is 'home'. Besides, I think Texans seem to be particularly proud of living here/'being Texan' and thus do not really accept someone as bonafide Texan unless they have been born and raised. The city of Austin might be different as there are so many people moving here now. The 'die hard' Texans I have encountered sniff at the Austinites who declare themselves Texans and I think it is hilarious. No turf wars…yet.

    Nice descriptions in this post. Effervescent.

  7. Could your little Texans be any cuter? No one who sees Abigail with you or Lucas with Philip will ever have to ask whom they take after. They're little versions of each of you.

  8. Loving that I can picture each side of your story, as a girl living in NJ with family in TX. Except that I feel like the outside here. :) Just tryin' to BE where I AM. Great post.

  9. oysters in austin? im sure it's a lovely place otherwise, but there are really only a handful of places to eat oysters. boston. the oyster bar in grand central. northern europe. cold places with lovely slithery ocean beasts and colorful flags.

  10. Steph,
    You have to get THE bumper sticker:

    I wasn't born in Texas,
    But I got here as soon as I could!

  11. Margot, I think of myself as a New Yorker, either from Manhattan or Long Island. You have to realize I spent 14 years of my life on Long Island while I was young, then the next 13 years living in Manhattan as an adult (The first 3.5 years of my life were spent in Queens, and I have no memories there). I also don't control what I remember, and I'm devoting an entire book to my childhood without a whisper of Manhattan.

    Texans, I don't think you realize until you've been here, live for being Texan. They wave orange Longhorn flags in their front yards, etch their windows with the state outline, have silly sayings stuck across their bumpers, proud as hell to be Texan. It's impossible to be here and not know you're in Texas.

    When people hear that I hail from New York, I quickly apologize adding, "I know. I got here as soon as I could."

    No, no I don't. Not really.

  12. I also am a Texas transplant and I swear it takes the first year to just acclimatize to Texas weather and culture. I saw Barbara E's comment and went to check out the new pics of the babes. SUPERCUTE. Also as great as Spring in Texas, Summer is brutal!!
    Also just wondering is Trudy's still around, what they lacked in chic, cool decor they made up for with a killer Margarita.

  13. I love coming across blogs like yours! I read your bio and it sounds so much like me. I have always loved writing and have been doing it since I was a kid. I now have a chance to really try to make writing my life….so I am about a bazillion steps behind you at the moment, but it gives me hope and inspiration to see a blog like this and to see how successful you are! Keep at it! Thanks for paving the way for the rest of us!

  14. As a city girl myself (Boston, not New York..and I know not the same thing), I have found myself in the position to move to Austin TX this summer for two reasons: to follow the man I love and to get the hell out of the cold. I can honestly say Boston to Austin is not my first choice, but your entry has put such a positive spin on the idea of Texas. I am so tired of being too cold to wear heels to work or for that matter anything remotly fashionable. I find myself rejoicing when the windchills are above negitive zero. The idea of Spring in March sounds wonderful! Thank you for the warm thoughts.

  15. Rackmount, You forgot New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. Large , fresh, salty oysters. Ohhh I am home-sick and dreaming of a dozen on the half shell with an icy cold 'Mary.

  16. Stephanie, I 100% agree with your statement "Texans live for being Texans." My fiancee hails from Texas and went to UT. I am from California and we currently live in Phoenix, where there really is no pride and little culture. Hence, there is a part of me that likes to wave the "hook'em horns" and be a proud pseudo-Texan. Love, love you blog!

  17. What a beautiful account of a fabulous (for me, fantasy) life in New York. Thanks for making me so happy to be here on a Monday morning!

  18. Love the post. It makes me want to move to Austin from boring old NJ. Even though the weather is warmer this week, I'd still love mild winters. Very well-written post, love the comparisons.

  19. This isn't meant to be a jab or anything, but I have noticed that there are parts to your posts that I find so completely unrelatable it astounds me. And it's not the ones about breastfeeding either. Although, I so can't relate to those either.

    "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."

    The only reason I mention it is because I find it hard to read it. Maybe it's a girl thing.

  20. To Bee-yes, Trudy's is still around and the drinks are still awesome-I'm a Mexican Martini girl myself, but the margaritas still have no match. As for the "Texan" thing, we just can't help it. It's in our DNA to be so stuck on loving this state. I can't explain it. I have been lucky to travel to a few different states and countries thanks to the military, and I can truly say there is nowhere else like Texas. I love SF and NY, but home is home. My first tattoo was actually of the state of Texas with the flag inside. A bit extreme? Maybe, but like all the other tattoos that have followed, no regrets whatsoever. And by the way, just to clarify, mine's not a tramp stamp, it's "strategically placed." :). Have a great Texas day.

  21. I have never understood the desire many yankees have to move to the south. Ive been fighting to get out of the south all my life, only to end up moving back down here for…a man. A stinky, hairy man with big balls.

    Ive had ex-bfs from up north who come to visit Jawjuh and just fall in love with it.

    One of my ex-bfs actually moved here a year after we broke up because he loved it so much when he would come home with me to visit.

    While I miss the warm weather and the beach- mainly the beach, I will always have that itch to get the hell out of the south.

  22. Stephanie,

    This is probably one of my favorites as I'm also a red head, from New Jersey, and live in Houston now. Spoke to my mom last week in NJ -during a snow storm while I was wearing flip flops. I miss seasons but I love my life here. Speaking of SXSW my friends and I are coming in town next weekend for some of the parties and music.

  23. Oh and to answer your remark about when do you become a texan? I don't know. Texas has a pulse that I've grown to love. there is pride here and it makes it feel like home but regardless I'm still the red headed tornado from new jersey and you really can't replace home…you just learn how to repackage it.

  24. i live in a place (nova scotia, canada) where people who have lived here for 20+ years are still referred to as "cfa" … come from away. my mom moved to my hometown (i was born in the big city, but was only a year old when we moved so i am a covert agent!) from a large city, and quickly learned that small towns are scary. 31 years later, i think that she still thinks of herself as a toronto girl, and proudly so. :) there is nothing wrong with never considering the city you live in as your hometown … as long as you consider it home. :)

  25. I love this post and I love spring… Hopefully it'll come soon :)

  26. I have yet to find a decent Bloody Caesar in Manhattan, and I have been here nine years. Most bars don't stock clamato, or else the bartender thinks I am ordering a salad. (sigh).

  27. Loved the post! Spring is here and it's fabulous. I am originally from Baltimore and have been in Austin for 11 years and feel like I have retained the best of the NE but acquired the best of Texas as well. And Texas is not the South or even the Southwest – Texas is Texas all unto itself. I cannot wait until Lilly Pulitzer opens at The Domain – spring party dresses, cute little tops, strappy sandals here I come! (By the way, they are donating 10% of their proceeds on opening day, March 29, to The Junior League of Austin.) But avoid downtown this week – between SXSW, the UIL basketball tournament, the Women's NCAA basketball tournament and spring break, the traffic is insane. Stay along 360 and 620 by the lake and all will be fine.

    Have you tried brunch at Chez Zee? The creme brulee french toast, made with challah bread, is to die for as well as the milk punch.

    FROM STEPHANIE: YES, we go to Chez Zee now and again. Tonight we HAVE TO go downtown. We're going to a WGA (Writer's Guild of America) event for SXSW. I'm debating on whether or not to bring my camera. Now that I'm lugging around boobs, a camera is a lot to ask.

  28. I've lived in DC for 10 years now after growing up in NY. When people would ask me where I was from, I would always say I'm originally from NY, but I live in DC now. I wasn't able to relinquish my claim to NY. I also talk about how I've chosen to live in DC. Despite having bought a house here 4 years ago, I finally now after 10 years really consider DC my home. One day you wake up and take ownership of where you live. You realize how well you know the city and that you have this great circle of friends who are like family and make where you are home.

  29. "My first tattoo was actually of the state of Texas with the flag inside." <– Exactley why I love New York, or at least, the North.

  30. Yeah, I gotcha.

    I actually spent my whole life in Manhattan only to leave when I was 29. I was single too, which only intensified the experience I think.

    Put it this way: I didn't even know how to drive.

    So I moved, all alone to the "City that Care Forgot" until the hurricane hit. I actually traveled to Texas for refuge and seriously considered moving to Austin as I had a few friends there. One of them was named Greg. He too is a writer and I told him to drop you a line.

    Anyway, I moved to yet another city after Katrina and have finally settled in.

    I even think I'm a decent driver.

    My point, I guess, is that until I quit pining for the glamour of Manhattan and the idea of being a New Yawker, I never really fully gave anywhere a chance.

    My loss.

  31. Something weird happened…the post I posted is under brookem , I am not sure whose post ended up under me, cause I am not in Boston thinking of moving to TX….hmmm…

  32. Julie – "Jawjuh" – hilarious! My sister is a Detroit transplant to Atlanta and tells me daily she will never figure out The South…(apparently you must capitalize?)

  33. i can totally relate to your post… i grew up in ny/nj and decided to move to austin after graduating from college 7 years ago. i only managed to stay there a year, but still LOVE austin. texas is almost like its own country. i had extreme culture shock coming from the northeast. you'll eventually ease into it, i promise. i now live in atlanta and have totally adapted to and love the southern thing.

  34. When mentioning the boobs – we haven't seen the photos of you in a while:)

  35. damn it if I don't love this post. You appreciate the seasons the way I do. each of them has their own beauty, but I was just writing on my blog today – there is just something about spring that makes you say: "Wow. I needed to thaw." The pedicure thing is so incredibly true too – it's like, finally my feet look human enough to present to the world. and why are salads so unappealing in the winter, but all you need in the summer? I don't think I could live without 4 distinct seasons, because by the end of each one, I'm SO ready for the next…thanks for this post today.

  36. Completely random note on the topic of that song, whenever people start asking too many questions about my wedding planning, I tell them that my fiance and I are going to dance our first dance at the reception to that song. The looks on their faces are priceless.

  37. I have so many places in my heart. Was born in Palm Springs, California, then West Virginia (I know, culture shock), then Central Florida, then Mobile, Alabama (4 hurricanes)…and last year moved to Lake Norman, North Carolina. I love moving because it creates a feeling of living several different lives all in one.

  38. as a native minnesotan living in nyc (for over 4 years), i feel the same as you do about austin. i always imagined myself 'going home', but now, i'm so displaced i don't even really know where home is. i've been too terrified to lay roots here for fear i'll get stuck (even though i love it here), and now i've come to realize there's really nothing at home i need/want to go back for. i think 'going back' is just that–my desire to go back in time; to childhood; back when things were simpler. who knows? so here i stay, with no plans to leave (no plans at all, really).

    on an unrelated note…i'd love to know how you got into photography — i'm looking to take up the hobby. thanks!

  39. bee – oysters in new orleans? i dont pretend to know more than your average oyster eater but it seems like you kind of need a cold cold place for oysters. crikey, i dont even consider PacNW oysters any good. no flavor. everytime i have oysters outside of a cold port town, i am disappointed.

  40. I moved to Houston, TX two years ago after living in Jersey City, NJ for 33 years of my life. I spent a great deal of time in NYC back in the day so I can relate to this post. In my heart, I won't ever "be from Texas" even though I'm sure I am here to stay. It is just too different and the food … well it just isn't as good.

  41. I'd-Been-Moved to Dallas by IBM thirty-three years ago. My two sons grew up here and both now live in Salt Lake City. I grew up in the Bronx in the ancient days of the 40's when New York had Mays, Mantle and Snider and it was All Good. Before crime and grafitti and the crazies and when the Empire State Building collided with a twin-engine B-25 one foggy morning. New York was magic, almost. My memories are still fresh and keen and forever. When I came to Texas I learned how to two-step, and the cotton-eyed-joe and smoke barbeque Texas-style. I really dug Willie Nelson and his outlaws, and Lyle Lovett, and Lucinda Williams, and Bob Wills, and Asleep at the Wheel, and Fort Worth, and San Antonio, and Corpus Christi and Padre Island. My Texas friends say you get your permanent Texas passport after you've been here twenty years. But I'm still a New Yorker, no matter how many times I say 'fixin to,' or how much barbeque I eat or how hot I make my chili and I do make my D.L.Jardines "hotter than hell," or how many jalapeno's I eat. It's still Monk, and Miles, and MJQ, and WQXR, and Sinatra, and Cole, and Jo Stafford, and Bill Henderson, and Billie Holiday, and Louie and Ella etc… and Fifth Avenue, and Madison Avenue Hardware with Lionel Trains, and a real Jewish Deli, and the Empire State Building on a foggy morning, or the snake house in the Bronx Zoo, or the New York Public Library and the Museum of Natural History, or Central Park in the rain or snow, and very sadly, old memories of the now missing forever Pennsylvania Station where I spent years dreaming of driving a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1. I miss the old Polo Grounds (before you were born,)and Ebbets Field (that too), and the Subway Series of the 50's and of course Bobby Thomson and the miracle of 1951 when I was a freshman at Bronx Science. And all those Long Island train rides to Port Washington on Thanksgiving to visit my maternal grandmother for dinner. But I will die somewhere on the Texas prairie or near Sante Fe, not in New York, but my soul will fly there after this body turns to dust and blows away. Good luck in Austin. When I arrived in 1974 it was a sweet little town with great food and music, and a few Longhorns and more honest and better politics. Now there's too many people to call it a town. It's unique beauty and soul has been transformed and lost forever, and I-35 from Dallas is a very long parking lot. When I came Southwest was competing with Muse Airlines and another long-forgotten-airline for the Texas air-commuter traffic, and Branif was huge. But how does one stop (progress?). The rock of Manhattan will endure and will always reach out to me. But I'm too old to dig out my Miata from snow or scrap ice off it's windshield, so this Black Cowboy has stayed for the duration, thanks to IBM and my boys who begged me not to move again, (we had a condo two blocks from the old Dallas Cowboy training field in North-North Dallas, well it was then. There was even two horse-riding academies near by, THEN! Both went away twenty-five years ago. (Progress?) again. So it's off to my silly attempt to complete this WW2 novel. That too began in New York when I was eleven in 1950 and I was fascinated with airplanes and the old LaGuardia Field. I do go way back, you see.

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