Note: I began writing this post about 10 days ago, but the message is still valid so here I go completing it, and sending it off anyway.
Austin was, as has been my experience during my previous two visits, a hedonistic smorgasbord of pleasures to suit every mood. This time, mid September instead of February or May, was also HOT-HOT-HOT, and HUMID-HUMID-HUMID-HUMID, which really only got in the way of the pleasure of sleep, because the air conditioner was on 24/7 struggling to keep the house as cool as 80 degrees, which meant we Seattleites were a long way from taking advantage of the lovely duvet, and the fan droned in our ears all night. Nevertheless, the mattress itself was very comfortable, and Ian and I seemed to take turns sleeping through the night and getting up early. Actually, what I pretty much did was go to bed on Seattle time and wake up on Austin time, which meant I wasn't getting my usual 9 ½ hours. Nevertheless, it is a home away from home, and whoever was up first made extra-strong coffee and went to lounge in a living room eerily similar to ours (the built-in bookcases flanking the brick fireplace, the white-painted mantel, even many of the same books).
Our friends in Austin are the kind of people who go out for a barbecue lunch at the Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX ("You can smell our pits for miles"), and revel messily in smoky, spicy meat . . . and then hours later, when we're coming out of our food stupors and a supper of salad and freshly made cornbread is suggested, are just as happy to follow my suggestion instead—and go to Amy's Ice Creams for Milkshake Dinner. OMG, that dark chocolate malt was the best thing ever. And the secondary caffeine in the chocolate kept me up for several hours.
And the next day—I won't lie to you—I did have some gastrointestinal issues probably related to the flagrant disregard of good alimentary sense the day before. And I'll probably do it again someday.
Other pleasures included a 5 ½-month-old baby who is just learning to mimic others and be aware of food, beginning to watch all us adults carry things from our plates and put them into our mouths. At the Salt Lick, she got a bit of a bare toe in some barbecue sauce—it can't have been difficult there—and the next thing we knew, she was doubled over in her Bumbo chair sucking her toes. She continued to suck her toes at random intervals—hoping beyond hope for more of that delectable flavor, I assume—for the remainder of our stay in Austin. It led to several—well, at least two—adults attempting the same thing: both JP and I successfully brought our toes to our mouths. We did not look as cute in the posture. Baby DP is also trying out her language range with quite successful production of alveolar clicks, along with the more expected—for English speakers rather than Xhosa—MAMAMAMAs and high-pitched squeaks and grunts. She is a happy, healthy, and easy-going baby, and Ian and I had the pleasure of a couple hours of her all to ourselves whilst both her parents went about other things.
We also had outings to swim—both in a pool owned by a friend, and in a municipal pool, and on our last day, before our flight back home, we went to a park and played Frisbee and then croquet, with the best croquet set ever created, with a picnic of leftover Tex-Mex from the night before, followed by a giant pitcher of Pimms back at home before getting on the plane back to Seattle.
What all of this hedonistic joy led to for me was a giant crash, skidding into home on my head, which promptly issued a migraine which followed the latest trend of turning into nausea and a massive headache. Sigh. Nevertheless, I could hardly be surprised—if you want the sweeping, vertiginous heights, you must be prepared to balance things out with the crashing, excruciating depths. What I had going for me was an already pre-scheduled massage with the peerless Luata.
Luata pointed out that the Universe does seem to look out for me, as I was there in her office, prepared to have C1 put back in place in my neck mere hours after it had gone on walkabout, and I mused to her about the causal relationship in my migraines. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well," I said, "do I get a migraine because my vertebra has moved out of position? Or does my vertebra somehow move out of position because I'm having the migraine?"
Luata was thoughtful for a minute, then she asked me a question. "When you go to the symphony, and you hear the beautiful music sweeping over you, what instrument is it that is the cause of that beauty?" She paused for me to think about it. "Exactly," she said, "there isn't just one instrument. It all plays together to make that beautiful experience. The body is just like that. We can't say what one thing causes a migraine, or anything else—it doesn't work that way."
It all plays together.