How I Learned To Love Texas...

Being a Los Angeleno from birth, visiting Texas had never really appealed (okay, occurred) to me until this past March when I had the opportunity to attend the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. Prior to my trip, I already admired many things Texas -- like singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, autobiographer Mary Karr, and former Governor (pronounced Guv-ner) Ann Richards. I had just never put Texas on my “Places I Want To Go” list until this spring.

With Park City and Sundance fading into the distance (see “Postcards from Park City”), my friends and I once again packed our weekend bags.

Together, we headed for the unknown land of Texas.

 Staying in downtown Austin at the Radisson, also known as “The Rad,” we were just a few blocks from the convention center and most screening venues. Arriving early to register, we had just enough time to catch a cab to the Broken Spoke, a true Honky Tonk venue, some 20 minutes from downtown.

There we were, all four of us, standing outside the convention center. It was hot and threatening to rain. We were hungry. And we were failing miserably at hailing a cab. Just then, we saw a young cowboy get out of his car and yell: “Y’all need a cab?” (Ladies and gentleman, in Texas, “Y’all” -- the conjunction of You and All is a real word, said often, and with a special southern lilt). Yes, I nodded, and then watched him walk half a block to the main street, smoothly and successfully hail a cab, and then direct the driver to our feet.

From that moment on: I LOVED Texas.

That March weekend in Austin, I took in a total of 14 films. Okay, only 8 were SXSW fare. The rest I watched in my cozy “Rad” room. You know, those films you want to see but just can’t quite be motivated to leave your house for? When I wasn’t watching films, I was eating authentic BBQ. What more could you want from a weekend away?

In fact, back in L.A., I spent April and May pining for the easy-going ways of Texas:

I enjoyed being greeted wherever I went with a genuine: “How y’all doing?”

I liked how the bartender remembered me, and my drink.

I even got used to asking how long something would take, only to be told calmly and confidently “Not long.”

If I could just get away with that at home!

Then, my wish came true. Just last month in June while trying to fly home to L.A. from two weeks in New York, my friend and I got stuck in Dallas.

His grumpy (NY/LA-centric) question:

“What the hell are we going to do in Dallas?”

My answer: “Y’all wanna find the grassy knoll?”

Texas has a way of growing on you.