My nearby meeting yesterday evening wasn’t starting for twenty or so minutes, so I wheeled my car into a diagonal slot along Water Street, in front of Baublit Jewelry. (What a great name: Baublit. Reminds me I need to name this $650 Ford Contour before it gives up its ghost. Since each day driving it seems to be its last, and since I feel grateful to have it another 24 hours, I think she will be called “Grace.” Maybe Gracie, to make it a little more personal. Gracie it is. Also one letter different from the Italian for “thank you.”)
I watched the traffic go by, but in reverse to the other morning. Instead of some cars going from south to north and others going north to south, some were going north to south and others were going south to north.
This “friend” may have caused a car accident this morning on the way back from dropping off “her” kids at school, not that I’m claiming that my friend is a woman. Or a man. (You know? Gender liquidity and all.)
But this is the first time this friend has been party to an accident in less than two months of living in Kerrville. (Which, by the way, I learned from a local realtor is named after a man who pronounced his last name like “car.”) Further, this friend’s spouse–wife, husband…I shall not detail here–was almost hit one day after buying a car, and this friend learned this morning that his spouse was almost hit last night.
(Let me make this clear for Legal Reasons. This “friend” did not “cause” the accident detailed herewith, nor did this friend’s spouse cause either of the aforementioned near-hits. Both parties are completely blameless and should be noted only for their courage, good citizenship, and all-around bad-assness in humility.)
So this friend was returning from Tivy High School, driving NW on Golf Avenue (see diagram below) and preparing to make a left onto Washington Street.
(By the way, why did I include this larger map? For you non-Kerrvillians, there are some local sites to point out. Upper left corner is the Kroc Center, where we have awesome swimming in the summer. Toward the middle center is Tivy Stadium, where the high school football team plays, and it really is like Friday Night Lights. So fun. Lower center left is Kerrville Vape Station, one of several vape locations serving our population of 27,000 residents and none of which I have visited or plan to but which form a source of curiosity to me about who would go and choose to breath in another person’s pomegranate mist. Almost directly in the middle is one of the Dairy Queen’s here…they call the DQ logo the “Texas stop sign.” Upper right is Dollar Tree, where everything really is a dollar or less. And of course the municipal golf course, which I’ve played a few times, including one time during the pouring rain on my wedding morning with all my groomsmen and male out-of-town friends. Ten hungover guys (except me) driving golf carts in the rain. Picture that; the course has some hills.)
So I–I really typed that…crap; I mean this “friend”–was making a left turn, safely and legally and morally uprightly situated in the turning lane. Blinker on. Registration current. Carrying no drugs of any kind. And there was a downright shitstorm line of cars coming SE on Golf Avenue, blocking the left turn. My friend was second to turn. Finally, there was a break. The car ahead of my friend turned left, so it was my friend’s turn next. A pick-up truck took the opportunity to turn left onto Golf, which was actually not his right to do–it was my friend’s right coming off a more major road; Washington has a stop sign there. But pick-ups rule, and the mofo turned. So be it. My friend is serene these days.
Here’s where it gets dicey.
My friend sees that the break is still there but the shitstorm is coming again. My friend–being a pretty damn nice person; in fact, there should be a medal somewhere given by some obscure group for the peculiar kind of niceness…no, the special kind of Kindness and warmth and emotional vulnerability exhibited by my friend toward strangers and small animals–my friend, seeing the approaching shitstorm, decides to wave along the next vehicle making a left from Washington onto Golf, since my friend would still have time to make her/his left onto Washington.
Everyone makes their lefts, my friend gets an award for Peculiar Kindness, and the world is a better place for a few hours. That’s what was supposed to happen.
But what actually happened is that the waved-on driver took the left from Washington onto Golf without apparently looking far enough down Golf to the right to see if traffic was coming, my friend finally took a left after the Kindness was depleted and, hearing a loud and sustained honk, my friend now on Washington looked in the rearview mirror to see two cars converging at their sides and then heard a loud bang.
What to do.
Well, if it were me, I always ask myself: “What would Superman do?” Superman would fly around the world so fast that it would reverse time itself and the cars would go backward until just before the crash occurred. Different decisions would be made. The butterfly effect. Christmas is saved. “God bless us everyone!”
My friend is discrete, though. S/he turns their car around and goes back to the drivers involved, who had now pulled onto Country Club Lane (again, see diagram, where you can also find Taco Casa, which has big-ass sweet teas, and Tractor Supply Company, which I myself am dying to go into just because).
My friend identifies themself as the driver who waved onto Golf Avenue the car that apparently took my friend’s wave to mean “the coast is clear and my Kindness is sufficient.” To make matters worse, my friend had jumped into the car earlier that morning with the nearest clothes available, comprising Adidas jogging pants, a gray fleece pullover with holes in it, and semi-dress leather shoes and no socks.
This sartorial display, along with their $650 car, brought into question my friend’s blamelessness.
And that, my friends, means that while one can fight for “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” it’s also true that one should turn off a major road onto the road that has the stop sign and let the sucker there wait a little longer until the shitstorm passes.
My plan had been to get to downtown before sunrise and watch the town wake up. It’s now about 18 minutes (7:49) after sunrise and there are a lot of cars here on Water Street and of course going up and down Sidney Baker, but no other pedestrians that I can see.
I’ve had more McDonald’s since I moved here then I had in the previous five years in New York City.
7:52 AM – a man in his late 20s or early 30s just rode a bike past me on the sidewalk. That was the first human life outside of vehicles I’ve seen so far. Correction: I did see a woman walk across the street about 100 yards to the south, but it was far enough away that I don’t know whether it was a human or a white-tailed deer.
7:53 AM – The truth is, I love McDonald’s sausage and egg biscuit. I don’t care who knows this.
7:56 AM – a Texas Tree Service pickup truck rolls by. On a flatbed trailer is a Caterpiller backhoe. When I get a breakfast taco at Mary’s, many of the customers there are men doing work in manual labor. A big change for me is that I don’t see a lot of African-Americans here, but I see many more Mexicans obviously than I saw in New York. If I’d spent more time in East Harlem, however, I’d see many from Oaxaca.
7:57 AM – my first close encounter with a human. He walks by, a man in his 30s, looking at his phone. I look up from my phone, hoping to meet him halfway between screens and say good morning. He continues walking or, rather, shuffling along. He is wearing the houndstooth pants of a chef. I wonder if he’s just getting off work or just going to work. There are not any restaurants to my right, so he must be going to work at PoPo’s at the corner.
8 AM – the belltower over City Hall is loud. I can hear it clearly from my apartment, and I had always assumed it was a church. There are Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, and Catholic churches all within a 5-minute walk of my apartment. But no, it’s City Hall, and now it is chiming eight. It’s nice—to think that the town center is announcing the time.
8:04 AM – I go to inspect the bricks that have been inscribed with what I assume are donors to something, maybe to the downtown revitalization project. I see names of local wealthy families that even I recognize alongside of people of course I’ve never heard of and people who have passed away, with their lifespan indicated by a dash. One lived from 1910 to 1951. Another brick is dedicated by the “Good & Great / Class of 1958.” I’m guessing this is Tivy High School. (The better cadence was already taken by their neighbors graduating fifty years prior.)
8:08 AM – I’ve been here nigh twenty minutes and have seen four humans. Two on bikes and two pedestrians. But again, one of the walkers could’ve been a gazelle.
A white pick-up rolls by – and I should probably heretofore not qualify vehicles as pick-ups; just assume they are, and I’ll qualify them as sedans or other vehicle types if so – and on the roof rack there are two kayaks, one orange and another gecko green. There is great water access a little over a mile away, at Flat Rock Park. (The map says the body of water is called Kerrville Lake, but locals don’t call it that.) Kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, and even swimming in the warm months, which for most around here starts when the water gets in the upper 70s. The air temperature now is 69°, and feels perfect. It’s been in the 80s lately, which makes for an uncomfortable car ride for me given that my decades-old air-conditioning is more like an asthmatic octogenarian breathing heavily toward me at twenty paces.
8:13 AM – I was looking for a trashcan to throw away my McDonald’s wrappers, and I was heartened to see one about 50 feet to my right. I always associate the number of trash cans with the density of pedestrianism.
8:21 AM – I had to use restroom, and I knew there was indeed a public restroom here on water Street. It even has its own building number, 715. The restroom was open, clean, and had toilet paper. What more could a body ask for?
“Traffic” cigarettes? Opposite the side with the Surgeon General’s warning is a notice that this is “A product of US Farmers.” On my father’s side, there are scores of relatives involved in the tobacco industry, or at least they were, living in the eastern part North Carolina and in Virginia. Last spring when going through some personal issues, I had considered starting to smoke again. Last time I smoked was in 8th grade. Not exactly sure how I thought smoking would help with any of my personal issues except for maybe help increase them.
8:25 AM – The lights around the parking lot along water Street are still on, except for a random few. Obviously they’re geared toward the amount of sunlight, and I am impressed that they have minds of their own. Some of them are optimistic about the morning and others are protective of pedestrians.
But like I said, there have been only four, and one of them might’ve been an armadillo.
In what must be an attempt to upstream Trip Advisor in its flaccid reviews of Kerrville attractions, Yellow Pages has named The Drive Inn (a.k.a. The Drive-In) one of its “Best 30 Drive-Thru Liquor Stores.”
It’s comforting to know I not only have so much choice in drive-thru liquor stores should I decide to fall off the wagon, but that also I could drag my 1998 Ford Contour one hundred yards from Pint & Plow, where I have coffee many days, and pick up a “real” pint. Know what I mean? Wink wink.
It’s also notable to see that celerity with grain alcohol purveyance allows for the elimination of the obviously unnecessary letters O, G, and H, and leave the heavy lifting to the hardworking “U.”
The Drive Inn reminds me of a story I heard in A.A. once. A man who lived in New York City some years ago would walk across the street in his pajamas to the liquor store when it opened at 8am. Then he would convince the store owner to give him a piggyback ride on the return trip to his apartment.
By the way, the River Trail is still being robbed with an also-ran #4 placing by Trip Advisor, which continues to baffle me. TA did get it right by showcasing four parks or nature areas among the Top 10, because as much as I considered myself outdoorsy in New York (true!), I spend a whole lot more time outside here, especially around the river. Their Top 10 Things To Do In Kerrville also got it right with The Museum of Western Art which, as of this posting, is still holding steady at #3. But “The Ol’ Rusted Cross” — or, as those who wouldn’t mind being shunned by almost all the local churches might say, “The Big Ass Cross” — is still defending its #1 spot, like a boss on a hill in a video game, waiting to take on all comers. I wonder: would a different sacred site like a cow’s feeding trough, maybe one that just so happened to be infant-sized, placed in an out-of-the-way location, like the underpass of the Sidney Baker bridge where teens go to make out, still garner the #1 spot?
I digress to a pissy rant.
Last night was…halcyon.
And today was Palm Sunday. I started my day on the body of water next to the #4 attraction.
The forecast was decent — low to mid 80s and partly sunny — so it seemed like a good stand-up paddle boarding afternoon. I stopped in to see Corey, the owner of Kerrville Kayak & Canoe, and pick up a rental board.
I asked him, “It’s first-come-first-serve down at the river, right?”
“There’s no riverside rental today. Everything’s going out of the shop.” He explained that next week there’d be regular riverside rentals (as there was last week, during spring break); it’ll be after Easter and closer to the “season,” as it were.
I told him “fine,” and I mused aloud about finding a way to transport the board.
“Haven’t you heard about the ‘redneck roof rack’?” Given the rhetorical question, perhaps I looked less urban than I felt. “You take two swimming noodles and a couple ratchet straps. Get ’em all for about thirty bucks.”
“So…how do you tie it down?”
“You open all your doors, run the straps around the board on top and through the car interior, and then shut your doors.”
I was OFF!
Went down to Gibson’s. Noodles were on the end cap of the first aisle behind the main register — I picked two purple ones to pimp out my $650, 20-year-old Ford Contour — ratchet straps and bungie cords were on aisle 12.
Here in Texas, I get to spend time in a room with light on all four sides. Why is this important?
Architect Christopher Alexander wrote in his seminal work Pattern Language (formative to Karen’s practice and art, and instructional from which I derive metaphors both helpful and fun but also useless):
When they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty. Therefore: Locate each room so that it has outdoor space outside it on at least two sides, and then place windows in these outdoor walls so that natural light falls into every room from more than one direction.
Sure enough, if you work in a space that has light emanating from only one side or at the end of a long length of room, you will feel a certain way. (Karen often told me that architecture and design are more about how you feel than how it looks.) If you are in windowless room, after a time, you will most likely eat the closest animal.
In the aforementioned room, I am able to wake up to birds singing, and I enjoy sunrise and sunset at their appointed times.
This was true when we lived on West 84th Street, where we were fortunate to have a covet-worthy deck, usable from March to late November. In Kerrville, I have a room with light on all sides, walkable from downtown, allowing my neighbors to see me working off my belly flab in the morning, and a covered porch, from which I can see the sunset over the hills toward Medina.
To show a little more of what my morning was like–a gentle saunter down part of the River Trail, Kerrville’s #3 ranked “Top Things To Do” here by Trip Advisor (as if Trip Advisor knew what was worthy of seeing, because they have to rank Kerrville and New York City alongside the likes of Hackensack, New Jersey and Sioux City, Iowa…or, more to the point, Trip Advisor allows reviews by people who visit here and also Hackensack and who may have a palette attuned more to Applebee’s than Le Cirque)–and even though this is a black-and-white blog, I’m going to leave a lot of the green in on the photos I post.
The walk, in a word, was halcyon.
Which is what any highly caffeinated (even before my first cup of coffee) New Yorker needs when moving to Kerrville.
By the way, #2 here is The Museum of Western Art. (It is now, at 3:17pm Central Time, ranked #3, behind The Big Ol’ Rusted Cross (#1) and the Kerrville Hills Winery, which somehow, the Applebee’s crowd snuck in there above the River Trail, sometime between last night and this morning when I made my pre-dawn decision to go to the river. It’s like I said, most people who tour Hackensack are bloated from Applebee’s, so they pray at the Big Ol’ Cross before having a glass of wine or two, and then they go onto Trip Advisor and say things like, [actual review] “We stopped by for a wine tasting & really enjoyed our visit!!” I ask you, does that sound like the review of someone who would choose a halcyon walk alongside a lazy river early in the morning over a trip to Applebee’s followed by getting some “FREE GOD STUFF” over at the Big Ol’ Cross? The Museum of Western Art, by the way, is where my wedding reception was 21 years ago, when it was called The Cowboy Artists Museum (a much better name). I would rank that #1 any day.
So, I’m walking, and I’m noticing these little black bugs. Trilobites or something. They move slowly, and I find myself being very careful not to step on any of them, so the experience becomes even more Zen. And I walk even more slowly, and I notice that on most of the concrete squares of the path there is only one little trilobite on it, making her or his little way across it, hoping I or a biker or a jogger (especially one who is weighed down by an Applebee’s Thursday night special) doesn’t come along and curtail its 100 million years of evolution.
It might have been my Zen-like state.
It might have been that I had not had a real coffee-time yet.