Friday, May 19, 2000
@ Fresh Planet Cafe
The guy at the table next to mine is feeding the bird that just landed on my table less than a foot from my right hand. The bird takes pieces of bread and sesame seeds straight from the guy’s hand. Somehow I don’t think, in the long run, that’s healthy for the bird. Not the bread or the sesame seeds, but becoming accustomed to taking food from humans. We’re a real finicky bunch who might turn on you at any moment or, short of becoming hostile, totally forget about you; dismiss your mere existence. And when that happens, no more bread for you.
I went downtown today before work to check out some of the recommended clothes for backpackers at Whole Earth Provision Co. I also wanted to find a good, strong rucksack to use.
Everything, of course, was way out of my price range. $74.00 for a pair of lightweight, quick-drying pants? Come on. So much for serving the budget traveler. Instead, I drove a few blocks north to Banana Bay Trading Co., a military surplus store. From my own experience in the Air Force I know the military’s summer-BDUs are virtually the same as the clothing being sold at outrageous prices to the unknowing at Whole Earth. From Banana Bay I purchased one pair of khaki summer-BDU pants for only $30 — a savings of $40. I also found numerous styles of ruck- and day-sacks from which I’ll choose next time I go. Somehow I’m more trusting of military issue clothing than the stuff they sell at regular retail stores. I mean, really, which do you think has been more thoroughly tested under harsh conditions?
Hordes of soon-to-be UT graduates and their parents crowded MLK Jr. Blvd. today as I drove into work. Personally, I think I’ll pass on walking the stage when I finally get around to graduating college. I didn’t walk at my high school graduation either; I was in basic during that time. I went back to pick up my diploma from my high school months after the ceremony. They can just mail me my $50,000 piece of paper.
There’s a gas station down the street from my office I usually stop on the way into work everyday to buy a Coke. Whenever I give the owner, a foreign guy, a bill larger than the total amount, he always grunts and grudgingly gives me the change. I usually try to have exactly $1.07 to pay for my 20 oz. Coke. When I do, he actually thanks me.
@ Barnes & Noble cafe
My favorite cafe-wench at the local Starbucks (bad me, I know) inside the local Barnes & Noble (double bad me, I know) didn’t quit on Wednesday! Tomorrow is her last day instead! I was happy to get to see Wendy again before she left for good. She’s leaving to become a fulltime masseuse and “make some real money” (haven’t we all said that before? I know I have). She has brown hair which she always pulls back into a ponytail. She and another girl, who usually works with her in the cafe on the weekends, call me Mocha Guy. I’m sad to see her leave.
I guess if I were forced to choose a place where I have “roots,” I’d have to say Biloxi, Miss. Although that’s really not an accurate description of the city’s relation to me. I have memories there, but no family and few friends with which to complete the “roots” definition.
I have no real memories in which Austin serves as the backdrop — only numerous jobs — and really no friends to speak of save one, Jami (who I met at the first of those many jobs). Nowhere else comes close even to these two cities as being my city of roots.
Many people leave their hometowns to escape these roots — the people they’ve known all their lives, the memories at every turn — and forge a new existence among strangers. Never in my life have I had a place like that to run from. In place of that, I’ve spent my time (the past year especially) alternately trying to forge roots and escape my rootlessness by moving on to a new, strange place. My rationalization being this: What’s the point of feeling alone and like a stranger in the town you live in when you can feel alone and actually be a stranger in a different country or region and surrounded by a different culture? And maybe the loneliness and all would subside as I tried to learn to adapt to my new surroundings (short-term, of course; the hit can only last so long before you have to move along again).
This was another reason for my deeper depression than usual a couple days ago when I received my first rejection from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, one of the three Aussie universities to which I applied. And we all know these things come in threes.