Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Mar 8th 2013 4:45PM by Harley Brown
Jordan Naylor, WireImage
About a month before SXSW, I started chatting online with another music writer, whom I'll call Bill, that lived in a different city. After he broke up with his girlfriend, our conversation moved swiftly from professional to personal. One night, he called me while I was on my way home from Four Tet at (le) poisson rouge, where I had been making out with another guy on the dance floor (I've changed, I swear). We drunkenly confessed our feelings. "'Til Austin!" we said. I was a little worried about the fact that we had only met once before for about an hour in a darkened bar, but I figured it would be fine.
I knew the instant I saw him in Austin that it wasn't going to work. I kept thinking about how we should be paying attention to the music and how wouldn't even have had time to consummate our relationship let alone sleep at SXSW. Mostly it was just Jenny Owens Young singing, "The fuck was I thinking?" over and over again in my head. I owed Bill an explanation, so I avoided him the whole night until about 3AM, when he called me to talk. It is still the most awkward breakup conversation I have ever had, and we had been "together" two weeks.
A few nights later, my bicycle's tire separated from the rim outside ND Studios. A male nurse in his mid-20s was unchaining his bike next to mine and offered to give me a hand. You've seen romantic comedies, you know how it goes. "Jana Hunter's voice is incredible. Is it legal for you to show me iPhone pictures of your patient's boat propeller-mauled leg surgery?" We didn't exchange numbers, but I told him I'd be at Pitchfork's showcase at Central Presbyterian tomorrow night and sure hoped he'd show.
At the church the next night, I met some members of a nomadic dance collective sitting in the pew in front of me. One of them had sandy-colored hair and wore a linen tunic with flowers embroidered around the edges. He told me about maintaining an organic farm in Florida and offered me some homemade trail mix. "Will you be my SXSW girlfriend?" he asked, putting an arm over my shoulder.
We left after Grimes' set, and walking out of the nave I saw a familiar back of a head. It was the male nurse! "What are you doing here?" I blurted. "Someone told me there was a good lineup here tonight," he said. Introducing him to the dancer/farmer, I tried sending him telepathic messages with my eyes but I didn't think he got them, so I made an alternate plan. Leaving my SXSW boyfriend on the corner of Red River and Eighth Street with a kiss on the cheek, I doubled back to the church and found my nurse in the back row. He wouldn't shut up during Nicolas Jaar's set, but I put up with it for because he was so hot.
Eventually, I took him out of there as one takes a screaming child out of a movie theater. I still kick myself daily for missing The-Dream, but at least I spared the audience. Once outside the nurse kissed me goodnight by shoving his tongue in my mouth and keeping it there until I managed to push him off me. After we parted ways, he texted me to see if he could walk me back to where I was staying a few miles out of town. Faced with the possibility of another dreadful kiss or walking late at night past a popular flophouse, I chose the latter.
Then it was the last night of SXSW and Bill and I were losing our shits to Sleigh Bells. We were friends after all, everything was great, and then there were no taxis left in downtown Austin. "We should go to the Holiday Inn," he said. "I've been able to get taxis there before." There, the concierge told us "An hour, tops." Two hours later, a Lone Star Cab pulled up and, when we told him where we were going, pulled away. "Do you just want to get a hotel room?" I asked Bill, regretting the suggestion immediately. But this time, confronted with spooning my theoretical ex and actually sleeping or a three-mile walk home at dawn, I chose the former.
So we got the last available room at the Holiday Inn. Of course there was only one bed. Soon after we turned the lights out, Bill said, "I really want to kiss you right now." I said I still didn't think it was a good idea. But he was persistent, so I let him kiss me for a literal second before I said, "Okay, good night!" and turned my back to him.
I won't pretend that the point of SXSW is just the music, man because everyone knows there are too many attractive people and bars with free booze for that to true. But in the dull light of morning in a cheap hotel, feeling tawdry and grimy with exhaustion, I realized I strayed too far from the hardworking bands I had come to see. So this year, I'll abstain from Internet romances, will make sure my bike works beforehand, and won't take food from strangers. And next time, I'll know to enjoy The_Dream by myself.
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