The rest of my days in Austin were spent riding bikes, enjoying the sunshine, making family dinners and even driving out to a country field for a night to watch the meteor shower while lying down on the bed of a pick up truck. All of these things were truly amazing but I have to say that the highlight of the end of my stay was my last night in Austin and all due credit must be given to Miss Jessie Lee.
She told me that she would be taking me out for dinner and that it was a surprise (the theme of the night). So, we got all glammed up in our finest and hit the town. Gage was nice enough to let us borrow his car which was a luxury that both Jess and I were appreciative for. We stayed on the east side for a fabulous romantic dinner at the East Side Cafe. Ahh, she knows me all too well.. the Cafe isn’t just a restaurant that talks about eating local and fresh.. they grow local and fresh in their back yard. The whole lot behind the restaurant is dedicated to raised beds of hearty greens, lettuce, herbs and other seasonal veggies like squash, tomatoes, cukes and the like. We parked by the entry way of the garden so we happily walked through the pleasant surroundings before actually stepping in to the Cafe. It surely did put a smile on my face. The inside of the Cafe felt like warm honeycomb – with it’s golden wood floors and tables and sweet smell in the air. We decided to split the sesame catfish entree (my first catfish experience ever) which came with two elegant and crisp salads and a maple glazed baked acorn squash. As a sign of her affection, Jess presented me with a most lovely note and a little bag full of freshly harvested pecans to take with me in my travels. Between the food, the ambiance and the company it was undeniably an experience that warmed me to the core..
Zilker Tree photographs taken by Ryan Martin (thank you for sharing!)
After dinner we jumped back in the car and made our way to surprise trip #2 which turned out to be the tree of lights at Zilker Park. The tree itself stands at 155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers which are a uniquely spiraled pattern causing the tree of lights to look as if it’s dancing. Jess grabbed a blanket and we linked arms as we made our way under the tree. We found a spot, laid out the blanket and lied there amidst the other standing onlookers. After a while it surely began feeling like an other worldly experience. I imagined us in a tiny space pod being ejected millions of miles away into space.. where time is long forgotten and all you have are lots and lots of beautiful colors. The colors began to blur together making one ultra hue. I closed my eyes for a moment and when I opened them we were gone..
..and off to the next surprise stop.. the East Side Showroom (check out their amazing website). From the outside its pretty non-descriptive wooden exterior is just another rustic building on 6th Street but as soon we we opened up those big barn like doors there was vibrancy and life.. so much I thought I’d left this Earth (for sure this time). This family owned (mother – daughter team) and operated restaurant is not just any bar and restaurant. From plate, to glass, to lamp, to wall, to music… the showroom is a space for art. The deep red walls, exposed brick, dark wood floors and amazing artwork on the walls by Kevin Foot were the highlights upon walking in. We were greeted by their very friendly waitstaff and shown to a cute two person table in the middle of the space. Upon looking at their menu I was pleased to find that they support the “slow food” movement and that they also showcase the finest beer, wine and alcohol around. They put it best when they say they have, “erected a modern monument to the cafés, music halls, and cabarets of pre-War Eastern Europe, Berlin, and New York. Yet, their distinctly Texan warmth and hospitality adds a familial charm.”
The space was designed by the owner and metal worker (Mickie Danae Spencer) and it, “embodies an eye for detail from the hand crafted furniture to the periscope draft system. The bar, shelves, kitchen, outside lanterns, lamps, and chandeliers all bear the loving touch of this talented and inspired craftsman.” The space sure was gorgeous and eclectic with the European inspired tiled tables, the mason jars in which we drank out of and the mini projection screen with Buster Keaton’s films playing (!!!). In that moment alone I thought my smile might start to grow legs and walk away it was so big. But beyond all that I have to say that the music was surely the highlight of the evening. The band and the place went hand in hand and I couldn’t imagine one without the other.
The Inheritance played their eastern European inspired music and was comprised of guitar, upright bass, drums, violin, accordion and clarinet. Song after song I felt truly honored to be sitting before them. I could have sat there all night (which we did) happily enjoying the ambiance, the musique, some mighty fine beer and each others company. At one point in the night we were approached by a gentleman in his 50’s who said he didn’t want to interrupt us or anything but he felt that he wanted to tell me that… “You look like a princess in the midst of a bunch of serfs.” I didn’t know how to respond except for a simple smile and thank you. As soon as he walked away however Jess and I busted out laughing… to where she replied, “does that mean I’m a serf?!” Ha ha Ohh the memories. So, with warmth in our bodies and music in our heads and feet we left the Showroom dancing and headed down a few blocks to Gage’s work to pick him up. And judging by the look on his face upon our arrival he must have known that we had ourselves a wonderful evening out and about together arm in arm…
a beautiful photo Jess let me take of her upon waking up on my last day…
So, thank you Miss Jessie Lee and all you other Austin-ites for the ravishing good time you showed me the two weeks I was there. Saying goodbye (especially to someone who is such a big part of your life) never gets any easier but it was such a wonderful visit that there were only happy and positive feelings to be felt as I was packing up my bags. If anything Austin just reaffirmed to me to keep being free and to keep allowing myself to have these experiences. It’s hard to wrap it all up in just a few words but I am forever touched by the sweetness I was shown (by the weather, the people and their city) and I look forward to when I will be graced with their presence again… until next time… I carry you with me whenever I may go..