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2003-03-20 - 11:29 p.m.

I didn't miss Austin when I was gone. I didn't miss it at all - not the people or the places or the things that I did to fill up my days. I was happy to receive the occasional email from one of my Austin friends (never whom I expected to write - the ones that, like the Austin incarnation of me, spent too much time in front of the computer) or an evite to a party. But never did I wish I was there. When people asked, I told them I was from Atlanta. I said Texas at first, but it just sounded so wrong. I'm not from Texas. This is not my home. I've spent the past four and a half years trying to turn Austin into my home, and it hasn't worked. Not one little bit.

But here I am in Austin. I got back three weeks ago, and instantly reclaimed my whirlwind social life - running hither and thither and bumping into people everywhere I went (you're so tan, they say, and your hair is so long) and everyone was so happy to see me and hugged me so hard that all I wanted to do was leave again, for an even longer period of time, just so I could have that homecoming once again. And I did have a plan - a plan to defer grad school til next January, pack up all my stuff, and work in Australia for four months. I would get a round the world trip ticket, and slowly work my way back home - somewhere in Asia, and then Switzerland, and London, and New York, and back in Atlanta for Christmas. But when I finally got around to balancing my checkbook, I realized that, while I had just enough money to do this trip, I didn't have enough money to make myself feel comfortable about doing it. And I would look around my room, at all the clutter (this, from someone who really doesn't like to buy stuff at all), and the thought of packing it all up made me feel heavy. And then I found out I couldn't defer grad school til next January, which was such a relief, really, because it meant I could stop being the person that other people lived vicariously through. I could just stop. And then I found out I could start grad school in June, which meant that I wouldn't have to find a job to support myself over the hot Austin summer, and maybe do a little traveling before then. So that's what I'm going to do.

I'm working at my old company for a while (formatting manuscripts in Microsoft Word while listening to old episodes of This American Life and The Postal Service - all for $15/hour!). And before that was South by Southwest, and Sans came to visit and we rushed around from movies to shows to meals to drinks with, alternately, Steve and John (my Dressy Bessy chauffeur from last summer), and Rob from Athens (officially my second oldest friend, which is depressing because I met him when I was 21, but still one of my most favorite people ever, even though we were both so tired and worn out when we met up that we could barely hold a conversation together - but that's okay, because I got to watch him play drums for Viva at the Kindercore/Pitch-a-Tent party, and that made up for any lack of conversational skills on our parts) and it wasn't like real life at all, which was probably for the best. And when real life did start up, and I was able to come to terms with the fact that doing interesting things does not make me an interesting person, I had every episode of The West Wing from this season on tape to watch - I had complained to Sans about being so far behind, and it turned out her mother had taped them, and dubbed them at Sans' request, and that is how Sans came to Austin with three carefully labeled VHS tapes in her hands, all for me, which I have been watching every day. And that is just one of the many reasons why I adore Sans.

Oh, and my travel plans? Atlanta, after I've worked for a little while, and South Carolina to visit my sole remaining grandmother, and then to Washington, DC. Exactly how I will get to DC is still to be determined, but I must be there by April 15th, to catch my flight to Buenos Aires. Because last night I bought a ticket to Argentina, where I will spend one month. I bought the ticket last night, a day before the fare sale ended, after rationalizing it to myself for days - the traveler in me said a month was not nearly long enough for Argentina, and the American in me balked at spending the money, but the spendthrift couldn't resist such a good fare sale, even if it was out of DC, and the fact that Argentina is really cheap right about now, and the realist realized that I was never really happy while traveling alone, and it turns out I actually know a couple of people in Argentina at the moment, who are not averse to the idea of traveling with me. Maybe not the best decision to make at the beginning of a war, but definitely the best decision for me.

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