Sunday, December 12, 2010


By Laura P. Valtorta

Nobody needs an excuse to travel. It’s just a mind-blowing thing to
do. Marco, Dante, and I went to visit our daughter, Clara, and her
fiancé, Ross, over the Thanksgiving break. It was my second trip to
Texas and my first to Austin, the capitol city.

LANDSCAPE. From the airport to the University of Texas college campus
the ground seemed open, flat, and dusty. I expected to see tumbleweed.
The cab driver was taciturn until Marco asked about the football
stadium at UT that seats 102,000. The cabbie looked South American but
spoke American English.

We hiked in the northwest hilly region and encountered cacti and
mountain bikers. The landscape was littered with limestone.

Bonnell Park, with its 99 steps above the lake, was a good place to
view the Austin skyline, big-ass houses with pools situated on
handkerchief-sized lots, and modern architecture. We imagined that
Sandra Bullock lived there.

The weather was temperamental. One afternoon as Clara and I walked to
the grocery store, a front blew in. The temperature dropped from 80
degrees to 50 degrees in about 30 minutes.

AUSTINITES. We saw a good mixture of Anglos, Asians, Hispanics,
foreigners, and a loud family of Italian-Americans. Very few African-
Americans in sight. The school district where Clara and Ross live is
about 80 percent Asian.

Downtown, my favorite Texans were the cowboy metrosexuals: like the
tall, tan smiling white man who greeted us at Manuel’s restaurant and
made the five of us feel welcome. Lots of large Texan women at the
local Target.

ALLEGATO. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we ate dinner at a
Japanese place that was not overly crowded. Japanese chefs, Japanese
waitress. Clara and I ordered sushi (tropical roll, spicy avocado
crab, and some other roll). It was possibly the best meal I have ever
eaten – certainly the best sushi. Ross, Marco, and Dante played it
[too] safe and ordered tempura.

DOWNTOWN. I could live in one of those apartments. The city needs
more public transportation. The sidewalks were wide, clean, and
inviting. All of the mendicants hang out alongside the highways. We
went to a hat shop; I purchased a hat for Dante.

Next visit – music at Antone’s! This place was recommended by the
taciturn cabbie.

IDEA FOR SHORT STORY. A cowboy metrosexual working at a Mexican
restaurant has a cheerful attitude toward life until he meets a woman
from South Carolina.

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