Austin, Texas

I fell in love with Austin, Texas slowly, methodically.

We connected in 2016, in a period of transition for us both. My law school graduation loomed; the city was then embroiled in a debate about ride-sharing services and implications on accessibility. It showed me just how politically engaged it was from the start. I stayed near RM 2222 and I-35 for that weekend. I found it charming & fun, though I didn’t necessarily think about it past potential future vacations.

I returned just over a year later to celebrate a law school buddy’s birthday. Lake Travis called and demonstrated the versatile nature of the city. Even then, it wasn’t quite clear just how permanent of a fixture this unique capital would be in my life.

Fast forward to 2019 — a friend & mentor informed me of an interesting job opening in the city. I decided to apply, and — by April of that year– it was confirmed that I’d be relocating to ATX.

***

I don’t know when it exactly clicked that this was my place. It could have been with my feet submerged in the pool at Kitty Cohen’s, chatting it up with an Oregonian couple on a cross-country road trip.

Perhaps it was as I walked through Pease Park, taking in the lush greenery of a quiet day in September.

It may certainly have been the first visit to Mt. Bonnell, celebrating a neighbor’s birthday and witnessing the breathtaking sunset from its elevated perspective.

Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake shirtless, after years of being in my head about my fatness, seems like an opportune moment where a nice affinity for the city was recognized.

***

I fell in the deep love I referenced as I took on many new journeys in life.

I became an uncle, began to speak openly about my bisexuality, and ran for elected office for the first time in ATX.

I dated from Casa Colombia to Cinepolis. I hosted friends from Maryland and Minnesota, joyously taking them to see Nether Hour at Latchkey.

I meandered countless times through the Boggy Creek Trail, sitting with the full pain and joy of life as I did so.

I joined Ebenezer III Baptist Church two weeks after I moved. I met Dr. Angela Y. Davis at an Austin Justice Coalition event on E. 4th Street. I celebrated the arrival of a baby for dear friends near Cedar Park. I took the MetroRail for fun on a random Saturday in May. I seemingly identified five cities in one as I got to know the lay of the land better.

At some point, I visited BookPeople every other week. I sent more than several finds to my niece in Oklahoma from the Post Office on E. 6th Street. I visited various campuses of the Austin Public Library to conduct business, wander through the stacks, and discover even more writers. I found effortless connections at crawfish boils, thirtieth birthday parties, and backyard jam sessions.

I faced a racist investigation from the Texas Board of Law Examiners, and I prevailed. I grew more committed to my racial justice advocacy as a civil rights lawyer. I understood intrinsically that — despite the tough political landscape of this state — I was called to it for a reason.

I stayed up all night. I slept well. I leaned into my impetuous exhortations of love. I kept my cards close to my chest. I floated in pools. I accumulated 30,000 steps on a UT game day. I wrote. I dreamed. I sharpened my politics. I laughed hard in bars, at dinner parties, and on rooftops. I planned a life here in ATX.

I don’t know just where this path will lead. Maybe I’ll remain in ATX for another decade — or stay here for 50 years? It’s wonderful to have some strong notes of stability presently mixed with unknown variables.

Wherever the path leads, this city has already left an unexpected, indelible mark on my life. That — in and of it itself — makes it beyond worthy of a grand love that is growing by the day.

About andrewrhairston

Andrew Reginald Hairston is a civil rights attorney, writer, proud bisexual man, and doting uncle who divides his time almost equally between Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. He loves, fights for, and writes about Black people.
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