Apologies for the Gotye reference but I really didn’t know where else to go with this observation.

Way back when, when I first came to school here in 1990…

Jesus, it’s almost a quarter century since I moved to Austin?

Shit. Where was I?

Oh, yeah…

So when I first moved here, I lived in the Taos Coop on 26th & Guadalupe. It is where I met a lot of my first friends in college, as well as my ex-wife. It is a place that I still organize a lot of my college memories around.

See that’s the thing about how my brain works. As I explained it to some friends several days ago, my memories are very relativistic. I connect memories together relative to when they happened in conjunction with other milestones in my life. It makes it easier to pull memories up from the the recesses of my brain, but it does sometimes bring a lot of clutter with it.

I know that as of today, August 23, I will have been in my current group at Apple ten years and 58 days approximately. I know this because I became “official” with them approximately one week prior to my divorce became final. Brea and I went to the courthouse for the final decree exactly one week before my 30th birthday. It was a quarter end week, so I needed a special exception to get the time off from work for the court appearance.

Similarly, I know my brother got married about three months later because I needed another exception to appear in the wedding on the true end of quarter three months later. My parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary the same year I got married which was 5 years from Brea and my first date. Etc, etc, etc.

So for myself, memory is so contextual that when significant portions of what my anchor points are are altered, I feel it maybe a little deeper than most. It’s just one of the ways that I recognize just how much time has passed and how I’m really not getting any younger at all. (yes, I know. Duh.)

Which is sort of what brings me back around to Mr Gatti’s.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. If my 40-year-old self went back in time to talk to the me of more than two decades ago, it would probably be a pretty absurd conversation. Me today would probably couch it in Ricky Bobby terms and let the 18-year-old me know that my frequenting the Gatti’s buffet on the Drag would make the baby Foodie Jesus cry.

But the young me was only concerned with one thing way back when. How full could I get at lunch/dinner for how cheap a price? By that standard, Gatti’s was pretty close to the gold standard. Make of that what you will.

All of which is to provide context for the disconnect that occurred when while driving down to Flying Saucer to chalk up another beer against my plate for 200 beers, I noticed that Mr Gatti’s on MLK and San Antonio was closed.

Like, for good. Irrevocably.

I really can’t explain why this bothers me on any level. I mean beyond being my go-to calorie dump, it’s not like there’s any emotional attachment to Gatti’s nor should there be. It’s just a pizza buffet by a college campus and not even a local one at that.

But it got me to thinking about just how much the Drag has changed since I moved to Austin, and how much had come and gone. When I was still in school, it was tragic when Mad Dog & Beans and Les Amis Cafe closed out. And those were just off the Drag, but there were big parts of the UT fabric.

When I told Brea the Drag Gatti’s was closed, she asked, “Is anything still open on the Drag from when we started school?” I really had to think about it.

The Co-op, though it’s not the same as it was when I first came here. Textbooks has been kicked to such a relatively small part of the business (thank you Amazon.com), it’s more Longhorn paraphernalia and tchotchkes than anything. I imagine if I were still in school it’s nice having that new branch of the credit union there, but Dobie isn’t that much further up Guadalupe.

There’s Texadelphia, and they’ve actually expanded the Drag location which is cool. The Scientologists are still in their space, Xenu be praised. Wooten Barber Shop, which I actually kinda miss. They always gave me a damn good cut. And…

Yeah I think that’s it. There’s the 7-11, Burger King & Jack in the Box. But I’m not really counting chains. Ken’s Donuts is there. Beyond that, it’s not really The Drag anymore.

So much of Austin has evolved and changed since I first came to school here and it flips me out the more I think about it. There’s a lot that I do love about the newer Austin that I appreciate more now as a more mature adult, and wouldn’t have when I first moved here. Sushi would have flipped 18-year-old me out. Now anyplace that has good sushi is on my radar.

I never did bars in college. When I did my underaged binge drinking it was within the confines of Taos. So I never would have found my favorite haunts like BD Riley’s, Gingerman, Black Sheep Lodge, or even the more upscale bars I like like Midnight Cowboy. And dear good, the food I’ve discovered that has turned me to a junior grade foodie (thank you Peché, Takoba, Vespaio and everything in between). There is something about a city that has evolved my tastes.

But the old touchstones still have a place in my memories, and trying to piece the references together with new locations that have no meaning just makes me realize how much time has passed for me in this town. It’s been much more good than bad…but it’s also been a lot, and I’m not a fan of that piece of aging.

No real point to this observation beyond food for thought and reminiscing. Make of that what you will.

2 Comments - you say something?

  • 23 August 201211:47 pm Tim

    Europa Books, Quakenbush’s, Le Fun and Einstein’s Arcade…

  • 24 August 20128:53 am Mex Headroom

    Le Fun and Einsteins combined did more damage to my GPA in school than any amount of alcohol.

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