Winter Storms and a Petition for The Captain’s Armband

With a Complimentary Trip to Cancun

I was setting up candles for the third dinner in a row, not for the ambiance — not for the sex appeal — a routine I was becoming all too familiar with. This time the house temperature was dropping into the low teens. To keep spirits at an even keel, I began rationalizing this more primitive lifestyle in ways that could offer some kind of temporary relief.

Winter storms were wreaking havoc all over Texas. Every house on my block lost electricity days ago — we surely weren’t the only ones. A lot of Austin families were preparing to dine on “random pantry mix” again, dressed in four layers of chunky clothing. Our elected state Senators were probably on the front lines, freezing their asses off and working themselves into a frenzy distributing supplies to those in need, while I was chilling my refrigerator contents using snow drifts. Showering in the dark was surprisingly relaxing. This too shall pass.

The gas line feeding our stove and heating our water tank was still operational but would no doubt suffer the same fate as our electricity did some days ago. Things weren’t looking great for us, but we were all still breathing — for this, I was thankful.  Right around the time I voiced to my clan “Hey, at least things can’t get any worse,” with the comedic predictability of a poorly written sitcom, the pipe burst, and my journey towards months-long hotel living began.

You might think I had an aneurism watching gallons of water rain down from invisible pores in my ceiling — but you would be wrong.  It felt almost blissful being surrounded by the peaceful dripping sound of indoor rain, like listening to a plug-in water fountain — the kind you would expect to find in an acupuncturist’s lobby or entrance to a day spa.  Watching my worldly possessions soaking in water didn’t phase me much at the time, as the euphony of multiple liquid cascades drew me in further.  In fact, I was so distracted, my mind drifted from the moment completely, and I began to take mental account of all the things most important in my life.

To be clear, I’m no saint.  Once I heard the thunderous collapse of my waterlogged ceiling, I could have choked a man past his final breath — but I can still appreciate the clarity I recieved just prior to the fall.  Everyone in my home was safe and my 13” iPad Pro with backlit keyboard/touchpad was dry.  I couldn’t have mustered a single fuck if the rest of it floated out the front door — none of that junk holds weight in the Grand Scheme. I returned to Zen.

Once we had the situation under control (control looked like shutting our water off at the street and thirty odd buckets / pans / bins spread out wherever they could catch a drip), I was able to jump on the internet to see how the rest of the area was fairing.

The situation seemed a lot more bleak for others. Seeing stories about people nearly starving or freezing to death really put it all into perspective, and reading about our futbol team lending a hand to these less fortunate folks brought me some joy in these potentially frustrating times. Possessions, walls, carpets, and espresso machines are covered by insurance policy flood protection and the like, but not everyone is in a position to afford this kind of coverage. These people needed relief and our players, who have yet to kick a ball on the ATXFC pitch, stepped in to help their fellow Austinites.

Matt Besler deserves all praise being hurled in his direction.  The veteran center back set up and promoted a GoFundMe page to help raise money for winter storm disaster relief for his newly adopted hometown — a classy move from an apparently classy guy.

As of writing this, the GoFundMe page has accumulated over $45,000 in donations, far surpassing the original target goal of $30k.  The page is still up, so please donate if you’re able.

If there was ever a way to display leadership and genuinely endear yourself to a new town, this would be it. Matt Besler only dropped his “I’m moving to Austin” parody of McConaughey’s Lincoln commercials about a month ago, and he’s already pitching in like the neighbor you’ve known your entire life. Let’s not forget this one, Austin. There might come a time where Besler could use our help, and we should be there without hesitation.

We need more people like Matt in leadership positions. When Besler and Co. were putting the wheels in motion to set up this fund, one of our elected state officials was probably boarding a plane destined for warmer climates (you don’t pack a large luggage bag to drop your kids off). I’m not saying Besler should run for senate, but come April, I’ll be surprised to see anyone else wearing the captain’s strap.

I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness brought upon by this winter storm, and it’s one of the few positives to come from it; Austinites helping Austinites. Even folks from other cities — some considered rivals — have reached out with kind gestures or kind words. Our city will recover from this, and we will be stronger for it — both in resilience and bond.

Thanks to those folks from around the States.

Thanks Austin.

And thanks Matt Besler. You’re a rock-solid human being, and I’m proud you play for us.