"It's time to go," a small voice whispered in my head. It was early morning and the sun wasn't up yet. I still had fuzzy brain and couldn't feel my body.
A bright red button floated in front of my eyes. It reminded me of the red button our government might have used during the Cold War -- you know, the one that would fire off one of those atomic weapons if the USSR got too frisky.
"It's your life," the small voice said. "Connect to it." I pressed the red button and the world did not explode.
I opened my eyes slowly. I felt clear and relaxed. A sense of relief. Nothing happened, and yet, something happened.
"Confirmed," I mumbled. "You're moving to Austin, Texas." Decision accomplished.
Deciding to finally leave my California blue state for the Texas red state seemed like a huge leap of faith, but in reality it wasn't so scary. Austin is politically blue with wide open spaces, southern charm for days, a few colorful cowboys, the ubiquitous country western music with the added joy of the Texas two-step. It all seemed doable.
I had mulled, tugged and wrenched my decision to move to Austin for the last two years. My #2 son and two of my grandchildren live in Austin and they love the city and its music. I grew to love it, too, after many visits. I have wonderful, intelligent, talented friends in Austin. It's a beautiful valley of green. Why not go?
The dual pushes and pulls of the mind were ever-present: Would I ever dance tango as passionately as I danced it in LA? Would I learn to love Willie? Would I put on my cowboy boots after 30 years? Would I eat spicy food and drink beer? Would I ever drink a martini again at The Brentwood Restaurant?
While I lived for 30 years in LA, I held myself in high esteem. I'm the sophisticated San Francisco girl, with a Berkeley education. I had a good pedigree and LA suited me perfectly. And LA also had the best mean temperature in the world.
Thirty years in LA adds up to a lot of hard work and tenacity. LA was me and I was LA. I found my great love in LA and together we bucked our heads against the entertainment industry for 15 years. And I could do anything and be anything I wanted: careers unlimited. LA gave me a world to explore and it was fun and energetic and it seemed unending.
Then the signs in the universe began to realign. I retired as a yoga instructor at UCLA, and I was energized by my new status. Possibilities and opportunities were looming. I recognized I needed to grow with new energy, new insights, new friends, new plans, a new environment, less aggressive drivers, fewer people giving me the middle finger.
As my values began to change, I began to change. What I thought I wanted didn't capture my imagination any longer. I still wanted to write and speak but I wanted to do it in surroundings that looked more like a natural habitat for humans. I wanted more connection with people. LA is not people friendly. It never feels like lastingness is a part of the LA lifestyle.
More than anything, I needed to be out of the unending traffic: I needed to be rid of the stress and anxiety of trying to get home amid Westside gridlock, road repair and breaking water veins; to stop hearing the sound of cars lined up in front of my apartment building waiting to climb Barrington to Sunset in order to get to the 405 freeway entrance and on into the 405 parking lot where life stood still. I needed to stop hanging out at LAX every 5th weekend - flying from LA to Las Vegas-LA to Austin to see family. I didn't even care that I had been crowned a Southwest Airline A-Lister.
This couldn't be my life for the next 20 years - living in a dry metropolitan moonscape where water was the most valuable yet not highly prized commodity and the cost of gas was once as expensive as groceries from Whole Foods and could be again. I rarely see the Pacific Ocean, and every 3 months, when I try to find comfort and fun at the Third Street Promenade, I dodge my way through the center of the outdoor mall in camouflage protected by a plastic purse not connecting to a single soul.
The LA living experience has become the observer experience and I don't want to be an observer anymore. I want to live in a city whose character is still vibrant, a city that screams friendliness. Austin isn't washed clean nor does it feel imaginary. It is a city that adds up to visual bounty and diversity - a mix of cowboy, hippie, university student, Latino, artist, musician and those ever-present millennial techies all cuddled together.
But Austin still has the vibe of energy that keeps its weirdness secure. So what if my final resting place of fun and joy is in the land of y'all? I just have to keep reminding myself that Austin is, as Texas Governor Rick Perry calls it, the blueberry in the middle of the Texas tomato soup, so I can be as weird as anyone else in hipsterville.