Those of you who aren’t native Texans or adopted Texans (like me, for now) may not be aware that there is a rivalry between College Station and Austin. It’s not just about the two rival universities, though that is a big rivalry and one that doesn’t concern me at all. I’ve been fraternizing with the enemy for a while now, and I plan to keep doing it because he’s cute and he makes delicious food for us to eat.
The rivalry I’m thinking about right now is between the two cities. Even in university towns, there is a hope that there is life outside of the university, that there are fun things to do and people to meet and delicious things to eat when you leave campus. As far as college towns go, College Station really is Aggieland, a place where the majority of us who aren’t students are employed by the university. My sense is that this is not true for Austin, which is a much bigger city and the state capitol, so there’s all sorts of political business that takes place there, independent of the University of Texas. Historically, Austin has been a haven for hippies, hipsters, and other folks who march barefoot to their own drummer. They’ve got a saying in Austin, “Keep Austin weird,” which I assumed referred to all the hippies. I was wrong. Apparently, its real origins came from a desire to encourage people to support local business, to preserve Austin’s unique cultural heritage by putting dollars right into the economic heart of the city.
Or was I wrong? If the slogan originated when some dude was looking around at all the tattoos and body piercings of the waitstaff at a diner, I might not be so far off in my guess about one thing that makes Austin weird.
Anyway, at some unknown point in time, College Station launched a counterslogan to Austin’s “Keep Austin Weird.” Their slogan? “Keep College Station Normal.” I’ve seen it on t-shirts around campus, and to be quite honest, I hate it. Because really, what does it mean? What is normal? This question leads me into Michael Warner territory, and while I don’t want to open that can of worms today, I do think that this slogan is ridiculous. College Station, for its own prosperity and economic future, could use more of Austin’s weirdness, more local business, more quirkiness, more diversity. It could use more hippies and vegetarians and poets, dammit!
I think College Station suffers from an inferiority complex in regard to its feelings toward Austin. Austin has worked hard to make itself a tourist town, a fun place to visit, a city with something for everybody. College Station is more rural, more of a small town with a large university and a famous football program. I hear rumblings of racism and homophobia in College Station, but I can’t say that there is more intolerance here than elsewhere. And I can’t speak from experience because I’m a white woman with (comparatively) long hair and a closet full of skirts. I hardly appear to be a target for hatred-spewing bigots, so I just don’t know what to say.
When I first moved here, Matt told me that there would be some gems in this area, but I’d have to work to find them. That man speaks the truth because there are now many places around here that feel special to me. All around town, I’ve sipped coffee, eaten delicious dinners, run miles and miles while training for half-marathons, and sat by a fountain and thought about life. While I wouldn’t have chosen College Station for my home, College Station welcomed me with open arms and told me to settle into the swing of things. And while I will look forward to more weirdness around here—please, somebody open a fresh juice bar!—I remain content that I am here, for now, gainfully employed and making friends and trying not to get sunburnt under the Texas sun.
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I started this post thinking I was going to tell you about a grocery find from today. I think I’ll save that for tomorrow, because I just love how this post demonstrates the meandering nature of writing. I think it’s one of my favorite quirks about writing: one never knows exactly what the final product is going to contain!