Leaving the swamp cities moving westward toward the Big Boys that smell of smoke and tobacco I crossed the Texas state line and stopped to say hello to Beaumont. A weird one that city is, so neat and clean that Beaumont feels almost cold and unfriendly. Beaumont’s and my dinner was odd as well, served by the meaty hands of a young gentleman with a black eye, he asked me if I was European (I guess my perfect english and American accent were not dead giveaways). I don’t think Beaumont liked my outfit. Thanks for the carrot soufflé though, it was worth every minute of our awkwardness. We were a strange match so I drove on. The city I call my best friend was waiting for me and she was dying to hear the juicy details of how New York and I split up after so long together. It was way past midnight and as sleepy as she was on a Monday night, Austin greeted me with open arms and big licks from some of her Boxer rescue dogs. This felt good, the familiar arms of Austin spread over me and let me cry. The next morning Austin bathed me in her warmth and handed me an organic juice made from local produce to wash down the vegan Tex-Mex she made for breakfast as we sat on the porch and listened to trucks pass by. Jumping into the icy Barton Springs was like being stripped, the weight of the baggage I lugged down here on my excursion was left somewhere on the mossy bottom to be nibbled on by turtle another day. Doing the dip unclothed would have made it perfect. Who would have noticed anyway, the guy swimming in the gold thong or the girls with cropped bangs and intricate tapestry for skin? Austin had cooler things to worry about than the exposed Northerner and my less-than steam punk self was not worth her eye. Maybe I should have stayed longer with Austin, best friends have a way of instilling hope and making things easier, but the truth is I wanted to feel uncomfortable. Making the life I have been to scared or lazy to with New York was not a commodity to be undervalued. Like a new car, I was depreciating and Austin would never be honest about that. So after diving into cold pools and cheap vintage stores I got back on the narrow road and headed a little north, towards this city I knew when I was a kid. We were good together once and he is who I thought of when, on that fateful night, I learned New York no longer cared.