Last weekend, Paul and I were in everyone’s favorite Texas destination, Austin. Legally, because we live in College Station, we are required to hate Austin, but it’s a hard city to hate. There’s just too much good food and good energy in that place. I like it a lot.
We were in Austin for the Austin Open, which is a ballroom dance competition hosted by the University of Texas. Paul was dancing in the Austin Open with his beautiful (and red-headed!) dance partner, Leah, and together they took home two first-place ribbons! I’m so proud of them. Having never been to a ballroom dance competition, I had no idea what to expect, but here are a few of the highlights from the competition:
* Ballroom dance competitions are filled with gorgeous people. I think by the end of the night, I had at least two girl-crushes and one boy crush. Paul and I share a girl-crush on one particular lady. I’m okay with this.
* There is a stunning array of dance styles under the ballroom dance umbrella. I like the sassier dances best; my favorite was the west coast swing. But the entire Latin round is not to be missed, either…
* It’s really fun to see people of all shapes and sizes out there on the dance floor. Tall, short, curvy, skinny—they demonstrate that bodies are made to move.
* A ballroom dance competition is not unlike a marathon in that you need snacks to fuel yourself. While I brought only cookies (of course) and some leftover cashews, Paul brought apples, bananas, and little packets of almond butter. He let me poach some food off of him, which was nice because…
* …we were at the competition for 13 hours. 13 hours! If that’s not love, on his part and on mine, then I don’t know what is. Were I to attend another competition with him, I’d definitely bring granola bars and pretzels too. More carbs, please! Dancers need their energy.
We had a lovely, lovely time in Austin. It was a short trip, with a late arrival on Friday night and an early departure on Sunday morning, but we managed to eat twice at Kerbey Lane (the pancakes are not to be missed!), once at my beloved Noodles and Company, and we snagged some good Tex-Mex food within walking distance of our (borrowed) apartment. My favorite part of the weekend, though, was just walking around with Paul. Austin is delightfully hilly; we even saw some exposed rock formations in the neighborhood. During the dance competition, I snuck out alone to walk around the UT campus, which is where I took all the photos above. Spectating is not for the faint of heart, you see, and after several hours of it, I just needed to be alone for a while. UT’s campus is a treat to wander. It rolls up and down the hills of Austin, carving out lovely spaces that look out onto the scenic campus below. I even found a turtle pond by accident. I saw a group of people congregating next to a pool, and gawker that I am, I strolled over to check it out. I looked down into the pool to see at first one or two turtles swimming slowly, and as I stared more intently, I saw not just a few but dozens of turtles, bobbing gracefully through the shallow waters. You can see one of them poking his head up to the surface in the third photo above.
In a word, Austin was fun. It’s easy enough for me to imagine myself living in Austin, but right now, College Station is home. I sort of enjoy being a minority in College Station. Living in a conservative town has sharpened my liberal politics, and I love to think of my liberal vote for Obama canceling out someone’s Romney vote. Closer to my heart is the home I’ve built here—friends, colleagues and acquaintances; favorite biking and running routes; First Fridays in downtown Bryan; my little apartment; and not least of all, a new romance. College Station is home for now, for the immediate future, and I’m content with that. But I am quite excited by the prospect of more weekends in Austin, more hill country, more pancakes, more dancing, and more turtles. Austin is the perfect escape hatch for young liberals in College Station.