It went on like this until about 50 miles outside Amarillo, just a few miles east of the New Mexico border, when after a gentle rise, the highway sloped downwards over a ridge and revealed a vast plain below and a series of plateaus to the left. Untamed grassland with some scattered shrubs stretched as far as I could see. The next number of miles were like this – long stretches of gently rolling slopes, endless vistas, few cars.
As I drove down 502 and then turned onto 84, I’d been listening to one of the podcasts I regularly follow called This I Believe, a series of essays by notable people initiated by renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow. It played in the background but I soon found myself going back and focusing more intently, finding not only some basic framework with which to analyze my hypothetical, but also a view of the world, of humanity and of purpose that resonated with me.
The scrubby West Texas landscape took over the horizon once I was a few miles west of Sweetwater. Wind turbines began to dwindle, although pockets of them popped up from time to time. Oil and gas drilling rigs and bobbing pumpjacks showed up more frequently, as this was the heart of the Permian Basin.
I spent Friday morning in a comfortable coffee shop owned by the sister of my host. It was roomy with mosaic tables, good coffee and friendly service. A patio extended along the rear wall overlooking a creek, trees and shrubbery. I wrote, I surfed, I uploaded pictures. I had a nice lunch. It continued to rain intermittently.
It rained that morning.
I woke up and checked my email, excited to find a reply from an independent oil company executive who I’d written to the day before. It said, “I am in Abilene. Give me a call. Sent from my iPhone.”
New York comes to life in April. The smells emerge from the blanket of snow, the neighbors mingle outside coffeeshops, the stores crack their windows and prop open their doors.
After a return to Austin before leaving to New York for a few days, I spent an evening wandering around Austin looking for scenes worth capturing. I started near Auditorium Shores where I found a picturesque shot of downtown Austin, and while setting up for it, the professional next to me mentioned how he was waiting for the full moon to rise.
It took me a while to leave Austin. I’d forgotten to drop off my Census form so I drove over to a post office off Exposition. School had just gotten out so cars plodded along at a few miles per hour as kids romped around. A shiny silver Jaguar pulled out of the school driveway. I finally got to the post office, dropped off my letter and was officially ready to go. I flipped over to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on my iPod and got ready to make this land my land.
It snowed in Austin today.
I sleepily pulled the right cord on the blinds this morning, expecting the sun to stream in as it usually does. But there it was: a temperamental mix of precipitation – sometimes a softer rain but then shifting to a crisp sleet giving way to large flakes of snow.
When I lived in the Lower Haight a few summers ago, I used to open the big bay windows in the living room and bedroom window to feel the breeze. It would wake me in the morning, the fresh smells and cool touch helping me get out from under the cocoon of my down blanket.
I never had the opportunity to watch Tom Watson in his prime – I’m only 23. I’ve played my share of golf, watched plenty of it and yet I have neither enjoyed nor understood the game more deeply than when I watched Tom Watson play during the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry.