Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How I Found Coffee in my Hood

I tracked coffee shop rumors in Windsor Park for how long? It felt like ages. Sick of waiting, I floated an idea to jumpstart something, and got some people interested. Good for them, good for me, now we're here, still undercaffeinated but a little smarter. In the meantime, a Starbucks opened up and a local place, hallowed be its name, is in the works. So did I get what I wanted? Yes, and no. Yes, because it's coffee, and yes, because it's local. No, because the prevailing attitude was still, Mueller will bring it to us. Look, Mueller is going to be a big fat disappointment and will never live up to its hype. Wipe the mud from your eyes. The ensuing clarity is priceless.

The biggest news, though, is not about the neighborhood but with my own household, which has relocated to Portland, Maine. In other words, my neighborhood isn't your neighborhood any more. We're located in a second story apartment on the eastern end of the peninsula, where we enjoy a beach 300 yards away for off-leash dog walking, a quiet neighborhood, and a Whole Foods that's a reasonable waterfront trail bicycle ride away. And a coffee shop two blocks away. A cluster of fine, affordable restaurants. And a bar with a flat screen tv for the games. The city's walkable. Is the city walkable? In this neighborhood, there's hardly any car traffic -- I check both ways before crossing out of habit, a habit I know I'll soon lose because it's so unnecessary. This morning, a weekday, I walked the dog around 8:00 and only saw one soul preparing to leave for work. Maybe no one works, I'll come to find. But this isn't funny, you know, it's a damn indictment of Austin, and I'm so glad to be here. Who knows -- maybe this city is irrevocably broken. Toxic mold in the nursery schools. Fat, corrupt cops. Incest on the city council. One's plot gland squeezes out extra secretions from the stimulation. But I don't need kickbacks to cops from dog fight organizers to feel disappointed -- merely the thought of paying income tax turns my stomach. But perhaps paying taxes for services I receive will prove not so painful. And perhaps the political news won't be another turn in the rapaciousness of interests. And neither in the cultural news, and the personal news, and the business news.

Why I left Austin, at least for the time being, would require a longer post I someday intend to write, because my disgruntledness can't be plumbed so easily. For the time being, you can have Austin.

Did I mention that I can walk to a coffee shop?

Here's the thing: Portland feels like a place. This is difficult to describe, except perhaps only in comparison, but Austin stopped feeling like a place for me a while ago.


Charles said...

Hey, Michael,

I had no idea that you had left town. Wow. Your new digs sure sounds great. My wife and I have been thinking about moving for a while ourselves. But I don't think we could ever afford the places we want to move to. Is Portland expensive? (Only half a :o) )

coffeehound said...

We've been in Portland for 3 weeks, so it's a new thing. Our rent is cheaper than our mortgage, but gas is 3.25 for regular and fuel oil is 3. Hopefully we offset higher energy prices by the fact that we commute by slipper, not by car. The sales tax is 5%, not 8%, and there is an income tax. Other costs appear to be about the same or balance out: e.g., apples are cheap, but cantaloupe are expensive. The move itself was expensive, and I lose access to the UT library. You know, it's all in flux, and I may write posts that swing the other way.

coffeehound said...

I mean, our Portland rent is a bit cheaper than our Austin mortgage.