We woke early the next day – fortunately with all limbs attached – and headed out immediately to cover the second half of road to Texas, car eating up the miles as we sped down deserted highways. We were near to embarking on the part of our trip that, for me, would be a series of uncharted cities; some I never thought I’d have any reason to visit in my lifetime.
Austin was one such city.
We arrived late in the afternoon, after a pit stop at an Amish grocery in Oklahoma for an in-car picnic lunch of chive-and-garlic cheese on crackers, and unpacked at N’s apartment in north Austin. It was the first time in seven months I’d seen her – the longest we’d gone without physical contact in the 14 years I’ve known her – and we spent the evening catching up over dinner about her second semester as a first-year PhD student, my cousin’s wedding and my last few weeks in DC, L’s Fulbright in Mexico. I felt that peculiar sense of sadness again then, nostalgia for the simplicity of school life and anxiety about an uncertain future. It passed quickly, though, when N took us out to a favorite bar for the night and we arrived back late and fell into exhausted, dreamless sleep.