Virginia Woodruff is a writer and Mom who combines her responsibilities on her website, Great Moments in Parenting, which aims to bring some humor back into parenthood. Yeah, she lives in Austin.
You are not either/or. You are and. Coffee and beer. BBQ joints and vegan potlucks. Students and Techies. State-capital bureaucrats and weed-toking slackers -- admittedly those are sometimes the same people. I love you because you contain multitudes.
You are the "live music capital of the world" and the "I bleed orange" city of college football fanatics.
You have a hippie spirit infused with high-tech financing. Your patron saint is Willie Nelson, your avuncular Polonius is Kinky Friedman and your wealthy stepfather is Michael Dell. Your current contrast-in-residence is the chief of Whole Foods, who gives his employees health insurance while defending their right not to have it.
You meet hundred-degree heat with spring-fed pools. You are beer and running, ideally at the same time.
It's no surprise this is where Outlaw Country was born. You are the cultural retreat for Texans who find themselves not quite fitting in at home. You offer an oasis of blue in a big red desert. When people fall across the city border, they are accepted as they are, and dole out kindness in return.
Your city council created an official day for the late thong-wearing, cross-dressing beloved transient, Leslie.
You entered the Guinness Book of World Records by having the most people ever dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." They did it in the plaza in front of a classical music hall.
As much as you like to have a good time, you also like to keep fit. There's a run event almost very weekend. You've been home to Lance Armstrong, Andy Roddick, Kevin Durant, and a host of Olympians. Your jewel is the hike-and-bike trail along a river the locals call a lake. The last time I went I saw a woman running in a track suit and head scarf.
To drink a beer anywhere is the god-given right of all Austinites. Take a sip at your video store, your dry cleaners or your barber shop.
You are Bacchanalian but also respectful. Austin people hold the door for me, let me in in traffic, and inquire if I'm alright. I can't get out of the grocery store without running into an old friend. The cashiers seem to genuinely care about my weekend plans. When we first moved here, I couldn't understand why so many people met our eyes on the street and asked, "How y'all doing?" Now I return the greeting.
And so it goes around. Random acts of kindness, senseless beauty. The graffiti on a bridge that says "focus on one point and breathe"; the yoga teacher who cracks jokes and endorses lite beer; the guy who pays for the stranger behind him at the drive-thru.
A friend wearing a "Welcome to Austin, Please Don't Move Here" shirt found herself telling someone why they should move here. We can't help ourselves.
So bring your kids, bring your parents, bring your dog; take the bus, ride your bike, cruise your Maserati. There's bound to be some live music, some barbecue and some cold beer. Come as you are.