This One’s Personal (or, My History with Flipnotics)
I grew up in the neighborhood. I lived at 1819 Spillman, which is between Bluebonnet and Kinney and I went to Zilker Elementary, which was close enough to walk. Back then this neighborhood was just a regular, middle-class neighborhood of small-ish houses; there was nothing chi-chi at all about it. Barton Hills was where the rich kids lived. Zilker was mostly blue-collar and hippies.
Zilker kids rode their bikes and walked everywhere. Austin still felt like a small town back then. That was before the dot-com boom and before California moved to Texas. We’d go to the park all the time. Walk to Peter Pan Mini-Golf. See free music at Auditorium Shores. Eat Sandy’s burgers if my mom didn’t want to cook. It was good.
I had my first real boyfriend in 6th grade. The first boy to ever ask me to “go with him”. When I think about that now it makes me laugh; I think, “go where, exactly?” But go with him I did. We talked on the phone and held hands and once we went to a carnival…one of those cheap Ben White carnivals where the rides sometimes break down and the ground is muddy and there’s a faint whiff of puke in the air and you should probably watch your step. They had a “Tunnel of Love” ride and I really hoped he would kiss me in the dark on one of those little chariots, but he never did. Not once. I didn’t have my first kiss until the following summer, and I didn’t have it with him.
Flipnotics opened when I was 15. Things weren’t going so well for me at that age. My family had broken. I was a troubled teenager, miserable and trying to hurry up my growing up so that maybe that part of my life would be behind me. I just wanted to be older. I was always the youngest in my school class, so my friends with cars would pick me up and we’d go to coffee shops and sit for hours…spending little and taking up lots of space. We felt rebellious and grown up drinking coffee with loads of cream and sugar and smoking cigarettes we’d buy out of machines.
I finally got my license and I was at Flips all the time. It was where I went to read or write and to just stay away from my family. One night I ran into that boyfriend from 6th grade hanging out on the decks. He was with his best friend, who had been a buddy of mine as well. It was so good to see them. We decided to go have some fun together and party a little bit and we promised that night to stay in touch with eachother, but we didn’t stay in touch. A couple of years later my first boyfriend died of a drug overdose. That night at Flips is my last memory of him.
At 16 I met an Older Boy and he seemed like the answer to all of my miserable questions. A way out of my old life and into a new one. I dropped out of school. I moved out of my house. And I did get a new life, it was just as complicated as the old one had been. My boyfriend had had some legal troubles and was on probation. As the result of a few failed drug tests he had been ordered to attend a 12-step program and maintain verifiable sobriety for the remainder of his probation period. He had years to go. I decided to join him…we did everything together and that ended up including 12 steps.
We went to our meetings in the ’04 area. We liked a particular group that was made up of a bunch of young people like us. Afterward, we’d head over to Flipnotics and sit on the decks and bullshit and smoke and drink enormous quantities of coffee. Caffeine was something we could still do. Ultimately, my boyfriend’s probation ended, we went less and less often to meetings and finally lost track of the folks with whom we’d shared so many intimate details. Everyone got older. Everyone moved on.
We got married. Had a baby. Got divorced. I moved to the country. I kept my head down, raised my kid and years went by where that’s pretty much all I did. Then I had the good fortune to meet a new man and fall in love. After many years together we partnered up and had a baby and life was pretty good. Out of the blue, this opportunity came along. Would we like to be involved with Flipnotics?
A person can go for a very long time trying to outrun their past and that often involves staying away from the places where you spent time not being your very best self. 20 years ago I spent a lot of time at Flipnotics trying to escape all of the things that caused me pain. Would it be weird to go back and spend time there again? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a comfort to me. I can love that time and that girl and that tells me that I am getting to be my best self. I’m on the right path and once again, Flipnotics is there for me. I hope someday this place gives my kids their first jobs. I hope someday it will help me send them to college. I hope someday they sit on the decks and write terrible poetry and talk about bands I’ve never heard of with boys I don’t approve of, even while I hope that life is more gentle with them than it was with me.
That will be full circle.
I would love to know about your Flipnotics memories and where we fit in YOUR story.