January 10th 2017
Story originally written and experienced: December 29th, 2016 to January 2nd, 2017
Originally I said no.
It felt right.
“Now that I’ve moved Down South,” I told my friends, “Perhaps it’s time to call it quits on this whole 5-year-tradition-of-hosting-New -Year’s thing, and we can just remember the good times.”
They didn’t react well.
That idea didn’t last for a millisecond, and before I knew it, I was planning my favorite holiday all over again.
But the plot twist was:
Indeed, I had agreed to host in a city I hadn’t even moved to yet.
I knew no matter what, we’d do it all.
I’d make sure of it.
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II Play II
My alarm went off at 2:40 AM on December 29th, 2016. I was in the chilled Toledo, OH, prepping to catch a 5 AM flight back to Austin, Texas—the city I now officially lived in—to host for the next 5 days.
I snoozed the alarm.
My mom did everything she could to wake me up.
Until finally I arose in tired tears and agreed to wake the fuck up.
I had friends to beat down to Austin, which meant, I had a flight to catch—no excuses.
And beat them I did. (take that as you will)
Only hours after I arrived, Drew and Kelly arrived too.
Commencing the Austin-themed itinerary to activate immediately.
A tiny taste of Texas…in the form of a coffee/horchata remix known as the:
from Cuvee Coffee, followed by:
A top-notch taco joint known as:
Once caffeinated and fed, it was time to take a trip down to Rainey Street.
An entire entertainment district l-i-n-e-d with bungalows converted into bUmPiN bars and delectable dining establishments.
It’s one epic street that offers excellent drinks, live music, and like any hipstery, trendy area, sPrInKlEs of self-deprecating jokes:
Even the taxidermy gives off a hipstery, skeptical eye to avoid being mistaken as mainstream.
Our mood was high.
But so was our exhaustion. Everything about a 2:40 AM wake-up call and hitting our 24-hour mark of consciousness warranted some serious Zs:
Day 1 was phenomenal.
But when we woke up on the second day, I knew it would be even better.
Primarily because, we had one more party member on the way.
But first, breakfast.
Snooze AM Eatery was our acclaimed restaurant of choice.
Let me just tell you…VERY FEW places compare to the brunch bliss that this establishment has to offer.
A melt-in-your mouth breakfast sandwich loaded with savory sausage and glazed in a creamy, spicy-sweet, oozing sauce, all pressed perfectly together by a super soft pretzel bun.
Quite frankly, it delivered our hungover bodies from evil.
Not to mention, the staff gifted us with a complimentary CINNAMON ROLL PANCAKE smothered in crispy bacon bits for no reason at all:
Then we got high.
Sort of. We climbed all the way up to see the Pennybacker Bridge.
And did a lot of “selfie” reflecting:
After an intense game of Hide and Seek on our way down,
we met our final member—Annie—back at our place.
And now that the full crew was in tact, we were prepared to up the ante in a big way.
We graced 8 of our favorite Austin bars in 7 hours.
1. A classy-ass cocktail palace named
Loaded with plushy seats and blitzed-out people:
And of course:
A luxe lounge stacked with
And best of all, a top-secret(ish) tree house we had all to ourselves.
Onward we went. Our next stop leading to:
Where big things were in store for us…
Really big things:
After dranks and an largely unexpected bear hug, we headed to dinner at Salty Sow where I rented a room appropriately called…the Chicken Coop:
Admittedly…we ordered the crispy fried chicken:
And the show/party/pub crawl went on.
To secret place. A secret place called:
A hidden speakeasy with a barely recognized stark-white staircase leading up to its entrance.
We climbed the stairs and entered into a dimly lit room drenched in soft conversations from current occupants. The counter was complete with concoctions housed in badass beakers.
And a booth resided down the aisle way that was calling our damn names.
But we hit a roadblock.
We saw a sign that read “Reserved“.
“Can we sit here?” I asked the bartender, ” The sign says reserved…but…is it really?”
He looked to the
<< left and to
>> the right
“How many are in your group?”
He sighed and said
“Well…technically no, it’s not reserved. But we only allow groups of 6 to sit down there…but I’ll tell ya what, unless a bigger group comes in to take it…it’s all yours.”
We sHuFfLeD into the booth one by one.
I knew what I wanted before the drink menu even came our way.
“The punch please.”
The last time I had inquired about this very punch, the bartender told me it was good for ‘2-12 people. 2 people would be nearly blacked out. 12 would be at a happy buzz.’
4 of us decided to partake.
And I’m sure you can imagine our mindsets from there.
The bartender stirred and poured for 10 minutes before coming back with his masterpiece:
And rest assured, we finished every.last.drop:
Cut off and kicked out (kidding)
We were off to the next one, venturing down the infamous avenue known as…
An Austin local’s emotions behind this epicenter mirrors that of New Yorkers’ opinion of Times Square.
They hate it.
Well. Most of them anyway.
But we’re not most people.
Though loud, crazy, chaotic, and weird, it’s the birthplace of Austin’s live music scene.
A place where roads are blocked off after a certain hour so inebriated pedestrians can stumble from bar to bar with ease.
The idea was to give our friends just a small dose of Dirty Sixth, opting for activities like…posing for pictures with the world-famous Jackalope:
And throwing shade at Maggie Maes:
Then, we danced our asses off to “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse
before our final nightcap at:
(No pictures were taken. But trust it was a good time.)
Day 3 got dangerous.
Tigers were involved.
And inside the Easy Tiger’s den we played a riveting round of
And Annie reigned supreme:
But here’s the thing. These animalistic activities were just time killers until the big moment.
1 PM to be exact.
A long-ass time ago we pre-ordered $300 worth of Franklin’s Barbecue.
A renowned establishment hailed as the #1 in the nation, conjuring lines that people wait in for hours upon end.
But for us? We walked up. Said my name and were handed everything on this list:
in one glorious box :
It was time to dine.
And our spread could not have been more epic.
And a local bystander named “Frosty” felt the same way too:
He even smiled for a picture to express his extreme approval:
The seasoning was so real, so juicy, so worth the (non)wait. Our reactions were so genuine, we imagined them worthy of a TV show called:
But I digress.
This BBQ brunch called for an after party.
Also known as: New Year’s Eve…
The plan was to house party back at our place. So after taking pictures with local celebrities:
We broke out the apertifs and appetizers:
As people trickled in to celebrate the New Year:
The party was grand.
Hugs were whipped out:
Pants were ripped up:
But right when midnight rolled around, we found ourselves in a colossal panic. We had completely forgotten about the countdown, and the only thing we could think to do was to briskly Google “countdown”and scream chat while looking at Scott’s phone:
Then 2017 began. Which meant:
New year, more dancing.
We pranced our way to Texas Two Step at the White Horse Tavern
Then back home circa 2 AM for fireworks galore:
Then we played Mario Party.
Then we went to bed.
Day 4 was the finale.
And a finale in Texas means…more tacos.
We floored it to our favorite taco place in all the land:
And placed an order to go in order to eat alongside the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
The January weather here was a frigid 76 degrees…so the decision felt right.
And after rocking out pretty hard,
We lounged in Zilker Park until dusk:
Ate dinner at a best-in-class local Indian joint:
Saw a funk band called “Big Britches” dressed in sequins and a superhero suits at Blackheart:
And then that was it.
My 6th year of hosting came to a close.
And after everything we did. And everywhere we went. I realized something huge:
Whether I spend my New Year’s in a familiar city, a foreign city or even a cardboard box, as long as I have loyal people by my side at the start and end of any year,
I’ll feel good wherever I go.