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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finding the balance between going out and staying in.

(NOTE: I posted this piece last Friday, then deleted it.  I realized I needed a little more time to ruminate on this subject ... so!   If you've already seen this in your email or RSS feed, my apologies.  I rewrote it and, I hope you like the updated version!  --T)

* * *

Last Friday night, Ross and I were driving home from a company happy hour at The Belmont.  He steered the car down 5th Street, home to what used to be a semi-regular haunt of mine, The Whiskey Bar.

"Gawd," I said disparagingly.  "I am so over bar-hopping downtown."

"Really?" he said.

"Pssh, yes," I said.  "Obviously.  It's Friday night, but right now I would rather go home and watch Netlfix with yoooou."

He smiled at the sentiment.  Still, Ross can always call me on my BS.

"I mean, I guess you go out less now than you used to.  Which was all the time."

This past week, I've been thinking hard about what he said.

Because right now, compared to some of my friends -- younger, hipper, or generally more energetic -- I feel like the biggest Grandma.

See, on many Friday and Saturday nights, I really would rather skip Red River (or east 6th, or a simple house party) to watch nature documentaries at home with Ross.  Did you know that the wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family?  Neither did I, until last Friday night. 

But there's a tipping point with staying in.  And whether you live in Austin or not, you probably know what I'm talking about.

It's the point at which you begin to feel cabin fever.   When you sense you're not quite tasting the great big world out there.  When you start to feel a little isolated, a bit out-of-touch, and slang or pop cultural references or even current events sail right over your head ("oh, there's a revolution going on in Egypt?  No kidding?") 

I was nearing this point myself last Thursday, when I slapped on some makeup and presented an award at Chris Apollo Lynn's fantastic Roaries.   I had just come from aerial dance and probably smelled bad.  But the whole experience of going out, in a dress, watching a show and seeing a million people was pretty darn thrilling, maybe even more so than it would have been a year ago.

That's because I stay in more.

* * *

About a year ago, Ross and I looked at each other, and realized we were living highly independent lives.

"It's good that you have your own interests!"  friends would say.  "I hate it when couples get married and just shack up at home.  We never see them anymore.  It's lame."

Maybe.  Or perhaps they're doing something right.

One year ago, the concentric circles joining Ross' interests, and my interests, drifted into two wholly different spheres of their own.  I was (still am) addicted to the novelties of Austin; Ross was immersed in fascinations all his own. 

"Did you hear about the Passion Pit show next week?"  I'd ask him.  He'd just look at me, puzzled.

"What is 'Passion Pit'?  By the way, have you seen my Portuguese language CDs anywhere?"

"You're taking Portuguese?"

"Si.  El gato no prefira aceitar un banho."

It was at this point I realized that I truly had no idea what he was talking about.

* * *

For a while, I really took it for granted that when you get married, it's nice to have mutual interests.  Not only because I can be a boneheaded only child, but Ross is just so good-natured about everything I do.   He even dropped me off on 6th Street not too long ago so I could go to some show at The Parish.  "Bye!" I waved, stepping over broken glass and a passed out frat guy.

But at some point last year, we just kind of decided to be more of a team.  I chilled out my manic weekend-planning; he ponied up and came with me to more stuff.  And I guess that's the point I'm driving at here:  That it's hard to find the balance between going out and staying in.  Especially in a city like Austin, especially if you're part of a couple.

Hell, even if you're not in a couple, it may take a few tries before you get it right.  Go out too much, and you stop sleeping.   You're overstimulated to the point where everything is boring, you've tried every restaurant and every bar, you've seen God knows how many bands, and they all kind of fade into the same neon-lit horizon.  Your culture knowledge does become staggering --  I know people who are little walking encyclopedias of indie bands, sleeper films, and hidden food trailers -- but it gets harder to hear yourself think.    

So.  A year after our realization, Ross and I are still working on this: Figuring out stuff we like to do together.  Here is our current list:

  • Eating
  • Talking
  • Watching nature documentaries

Riveting stuff, isn't it?

But since I made somewhat of a conscious decision to go out a bit less, and spend more time doing whatever with Ross at home, I love it.  One of the biggest reasons I married this man was because he's so damn fun to talk to, and trust me, I talk his ear off.   I know this sounds almost silly for two people who are married, but now that we have more stuff in common, our conversations have upgraded.  Conversations are extremely important to me, period, but they should be especially important with your husband, right? 

Also, when I do go out now, shows are AMAZING.  Restaurants are WOW!  So creative with their MENUS!  My people-watching happens in blinding technicolor, so special is the occasion to go out and observe a crowd full of absolute strangers. 

Last Thursday, I was gawking at some girl's outfit at the Roaries, because I am not the most subtle people-watcher.  And I said to the people I was talking to, or rather shouted, "DON'T YOU LOVE THE WAY SHE TUCKED IN HER BLOUSE TO HER SKIRT?  IT'S SO WELL-PROPORTIONED!  WOW!!"

One of my friends said, "Tolly, you seriously need to get out more."

But I'm enjoying this new cluelessness.  I've traded a bit of nightlife for a lot more time with Ross, and as a result I am more fascinated by him.

Ironically, I'm more fascinated by Austin too.


Cody said...


Unknown said...

I'm in the market for a new apartment so I can stay in more and enjoy alone time. I want to live closer to the that I can stay home....ha. I promise it makes sense in my head. ;)

Amy Strecker said...

I love the rewrite. I've been struggling with this balance myself, and I think it will be a continual struggle, but one I'm willing to fight to find the balance that works for me.

Bluelight Photography said...

I LOVE THIS TOLLY!! Ive been struggling with this as well, and I think it also has to do with age and maturity. It is def. a struggle, and I am still trying to balance!

TrophyBoutique said...

I FEEL EXACTLY THE SAME WAY! This is one of my favorite posts of yours. I have the same struggle with finding the balance between going out and staying in and this past year it has been erring more on the staying in side. But recently I started getting out more and find thatI do appreciate it so much more. Have you heard of the Highball? Have you heard of Red River Street? Ok, Ok, I'm joking about those but I still haven't heard of Rosaries. So you are actually less Grandma than I am.

Nicole Mlakar-Livingston said...

Yes, Yes and Yes!! Life was totally boring back in the days of shows, house parties and repeat. I never knew how to add spice to my life back then but it took me clear till my 30s to realize that. Thanks for writing this Tolly!

Lindsay said...

Tolly, I absolutely loved this post. Being a couple in this town is hard, and finding a balance is key. I feel like it's always something that Jonathan and I are working on, too. One of our favorite things to do when we get that overstimulated-social-hype feeling you mentioned is to hop in the car and go stay in a cabin somewhere away from Austin. This whole post really rang true for me, thanks for sharing!

Pang said...

Dear Tollster, I've been reading your blog for over a year now, and I have to say that I find your writing unfailingly amusing, witty and entertaining. I love all the Austin-related commentary and reports on the goings-ons occurring around town, but recently, it seems you've been writing more frequently about your personal life, and I have to say that content is by far your best stuff. That's really all I wanted to say. Stay rad, my friend :)

Christi @ Rumination Avenue said...

Yep and when you have children, your weekend options are even more limited.

I was at Bouldin yesterday and couldn't believe how many OLD scenesters were there...we're talking older than my parents.

Does maturation necessarily involve giving up going out all the time? Sounds like a question Carrie would pose.

I'm a Mess said...

I LOVE THIS POST! I always try to do something different every now and then, example: this Thursday I'm going to the Houston Ballet to see Marie Antoinette. :D I love getting all dolled up and looking fancy!

Thanks for posting this!

april dawne said...

Girl, I used to have people say the same thing about me and Dylan. How awesome it is that we have our own lives but would come together for mutual interests. We're divorced now and one hand, I will never be able to be w/someone else that doesn't allow me to be the ONLY child that I am too, and have my own life. At the same time, my best friend just said to me Sunday, "If you decide you want a boy friend, you'll have to compromise. He won't always want to go out and do YOUR stuff." Oh shit. Well, I'll be single for a while then.
This town makes you want to really be a PART Of it, but it also helps to make you really tired. Glad to see I'm not the only one that has struggled with this topic.
(Girl, I didn't even know you were married the first year I knew ya....and people used to tell me that too.)

Tanya (a Taste of T) said...

I'm such a grandma these days too. We'll see if the hip me comes out during SXSW.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Cody -- :-D And, "Dogs."

@Heather -- Where are you living now? I know exactly what you mean: You want to live more inside Austiny-Austin! I hear you ... we're looking for a house right now, and that's a big priority of mine.

@Amy and @Bluelight -- Thanks girls! I think this must be a 20-something affliction, especially when you don't have kids yet. You want to relax, to read, to just stay home and watch a little Top Chef. But you don't want to miss out on stuff, either. Add on that our relatively small income as 20-somethings and viola, age-appropriate neuroses! :)

@TrophyBoutique -- Teehee, "the Rosaries." ;) The Roaries are a local music awards competition and show put on by Chris Apollo Lynn, editor of Was totally fun! They held it at the Ghost Room.

But what is this RED RIVER STREET you speak of??

@Nicole -- I know! Isn't it funny how going out itself becomes boring sometimes? Bring on the nature documentaries.

@Lindsay -- <3 <3 You and Jonathan are about the healthiest couple I know. And it's because you know how to balance.

@Pang -- Well that MAKES MY DAY. Thank you!!

@Christi -- "Does maturation mean giving up going out?" It's totally a Carrie Bradshaw question. And in fact I think she might ask it at the beginning of Sex & The City 2. Only her solution is Dubai ... mine is more like Torchy's Tacos.

@KellyND -- JEALOUS. I'd donate a major organ to see Marie Antoinette. Good for you mama, you should do a little show review + outfit post? on The Church Mouse.

@April -- I know. I can't tell you how many people have asked me, "YOU'RE MARRIED?!" after we'd hung out a few times. That gave me pause. It was part of the reason I bid farewell to a little bit of my nightlife-y self and cozied up to a more domestic, at-home existence. I won the freaking marriage lottery, after all. Which I know sounds a bit barfy ... but is true. I'm a total fangirl for Ross.

Also? Totally hear you on the only child front. We loooooove our independence. It's one of our most attractive qualities, I like to think. ;) But it's true. We do have to train ourselves to cede control. AND IT IS HARD.

@Tanya -- Hello, fellow Grandma! Represent. I'll veg it out any day with ya, a cup of chamomile in-hand and the TV turned to Bravo.

Unknown said...

Well written, Tolly! With or without a Sig-O, it's really just about balancing your social and private life, and using the two to preserve the exhilaration of both. Very universal - thank you.

Jess ( said...

I'm a total homebody! After a couple of years of good, old-fashioned partying, I decided to keep the nights out to a minimum and institute weekly things like "pizza night" (yes, it's as wonderful as it sounds) with my husband. I still go out, probably once a week, but other nights my hubby and I usually get a beer at the Pourhouse, then go home and cook dinner. I think it's nice to be able to enjoy each other without outside stimulation.

Tyler said...

A few of us were JUST talking about this at the Roaries. We're just waiting for the next crop of kids to come up and take over. :)

Dad said...

Holy cow, girl! Or maybe I should say holy cow, daughter. You have a great knack for reinvigorating your life. People who read your blog should take notice and do the same. Jobs, hobbies, and avocations are great until they become routine and stale. Life shouldn't be punch in and punch out everyday until you die. Ross added spice to your lives with his adventure to Brazil, and you notched it up with your hanging from the ceiling with silk classes. You go girl!

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Kristina -- You are very welcome, and thank YOU for the nice compliment.

@Jess -- "I think it's nice to be able to enjoy each other without outside stimulation" -- YES! That's exactly what I'm talking about. PS, Pizza Night sounds awesome. We used to have informal Pei Wei Night over here. ;)

@Tyler -- Haha, that's funny ... I've never thought of it that way. But there's probably some truth to that, a passing of the torch, so to speak, to Austin's younger night crawlers.

@Dad -- Thank you Daddy. :) Always my #1 cheerleader!

Hanlly Sam © said...

I'm only 21 and I'm already doing that. My boyfriend is 28 maybe that's why. We used to party a lot every weekend but now we rather stay in and watch Netflix like you said. I love it, I think you should just go with it. We occasionally go out but not as much as we used to. Sometimes I think i'm missing out but I think of it more as sharing my life with someone. :)

S. Crouch said...

All true! Great Perspective. The Yin and the Yang, yo!