We drove down the country highway, through fields of green and brown and long horns and windmills, and I swear those lanes are alive, the way they breathe up and slowly down. We were going back to my favorite city on my favorite route, this two-lane highway that goes through the Texas pines and the rolling hills I just love. I couldn't help but compare these open, mellow lanes to the congested traffic you always see in Orange County no matter what time of day. The view here was so much better. It was a beautiful day to go back to our old home. Home. Austin wasn't my first home, but it has been the one I've held dearest to my heart. From the peacocks at Mayfield Park to the journals and Book People and lunch bentos at Banzai, there's something inside of me that will always miss Austin. It was the first city I freely explored and learned about on my own, and will always feel like home. My heart breaks having it so far away.
We got in to downtown on a beautiful day, sunny and gorgeous. We stayed at the Radisson on Town Lake which, as any stay in a hotel fancier than the Motel 8's I grew up with, sure was FANCY! Things NOT bolted down on tables? And sheets that aren't as soft as sandpaper? OOOoooooOOOOOooooo Seriously, though, I'm sure even if you had more experiences with fine outings you would also thing it was a nice hotel.
The next few days were a whirlwind of spontaneous planning between meeting Court and Rachel (my other lovely, beautiful barista buddy)and the myriad of friends that Jim and I have back home. I simply couldn't wait to see Court and her sprite of a daughter, Kaiya. I was worried, though, that Diego and Kaiya would hate each other or spend most of our time together trying to eat and/or beat each other up. Our worries, however, were totally unfounded once they met.
Look at them holding hands! Isn't that just the cutest thing you've ever seen? We about died. DIED. Now I pass the dying to you, my friends. They pretty much loved each other. Yeah, that's right. They got along spectacularly. Diego didn't mind that Kaiya kept raiding his snacks and he even shared his books with her. It was really a joy to see them not only getting along, but looking for each other around the room. D's still not doing much more than parallel play with most kids his age, but older kids have always brought out the courage in him. He tries new things and does things I've never seen before. And Kaiya is a beautiful, happy kid and I loved spending time with her.
Not only was seeing Kaiya a priority, but seeing Court may have been even more important for me. We've know each other for EONS. We're that old. Actually, I think next year will be 10 years since I poked my head into her dorm room and asked if she wanted to hang out. Back when hanging out meant getting a cup of coffee or going to the park to swing or ignoring homework and playing racing games at the local game place. Sigh. Memmmmmooooorrrriiiiieeess. Ahem. And it was fantastic seeing her again.
So much happened during our few days. We went to the Austin Nature and Science Center, where Diego fell and split his lip on a fake tree and we dug in a huge dinosaur dig and also where we saw coyotes and wolves and the most excited, for Diego, PINE CONES! (He likes them. A lot.)
We got to hang out in Court's fabulous backyard and play with the many toys there. What a great backyard, right? Open and green and with plenty of space to run around or be pushed in a red plastic car.
We even managed to go the Austin Children's Museum on New Year's Eve before heading to the hotel where the babies partied the night away.
So much and in so little time and it only made it that much harder to leave. My love to all our old and new friends, I missed you the moment I thought about the plane ride back to California. And the way home was horrible, but more about that in the shocking Part 3 of my holiday vacation posts. I miss y'all. Come kidnap me. I think there's some queso at Kerbey calling our names.