It had been a long and tiresome journey.
A 10-hour drive to Florence, Ala. led me directly to a bar where I met Allison and her friend, Allyson, for drinks.
We headed back to Allison’s place for a nightcap (A Hopsecutioner) and stayed up until 5 a.m. doing God only knows what.
Allyson saw me off after breakfast and a coffee and then I was off again, this time on my way from Alabama to Shreveport, La. where my family was waiting to show me around.
I had not been to visit since I was in elementary school, but when I arrived this time, I was ushered in and handed a beer.
After dinner we went to the casino where my aunt won big while keeping us out, again, until about 3 a.m.
I got a late start in on the last leg of my journey, which was another nine-hour burn, this time from Louisiana’s top left nocorner to the tip of Texas.
Indeed, my plan was to head south until someone asked for a passport.
Then I would know I had gone too far.
I had begun my trip with dreams of pulling into the parking lot of my new apartment complex, walking up the stairs to my new home, crossing the threshold and breaking down into a sobbing, windblown mess, sleeping on the carpet floor of the apartment I had moved into, which was a day’s drive from my family and friends in a town where the only people I knew were the two editors who interviewed me over the phone.
But when I was about an hour out, I realized that didn’t sound much like the way Ty Johnson would spend his first night in Brownsville, Texas.
So I used the only mode of communication that I had (Twitter) to make contract with the coworker who had followed and Tweeted at me ahead of my arrival.
I silently hoped she was as boozy as me, and, since she was a journalist too, I had a good chance of being right.
I direct messaged her:
“Wanna get a beer or something? I need a drink and someone to tell me where to go.”
It just so happened that she and one of the paper’s photographers were heading out to a bar right near where I (now) live.
After trying, and failing, to move my things in, I headed to the bar and ordered an Abita Amber on draft.
If there is one thing Richard taught me about living in Texas, it is that Abita Amber is always a good choice.
I met with my new friends, who, on the strength of being among the few people in the state who knew my name, were quickly upgraded to the rank of best friends.
The night took us to another venue and finally terminated at a taco joint that I have not been able to find since.
Yes, there was drunk “dance like nobody is watching” dancing that typically only happens for me in select company and when Ke$ha is on — but something else happened that night.
At the second bar, the music was too loud to hear yourself drink. I was turned sideways trying to navigate through the swath of people to the bathroom when the man who I was awkwardly facing put his hand on my shoulder and leaned in close.
“Where are you from, man?” he asked?
Goddammit, I thought. Is it that fucking obvious?
“Not here.” I replied, sidestepping my inquisitor and making my way to the bathroom.