My name is Fernando Labastida
That’s me, the one with the eyes closed. This is my family, from left to right, Adriana, Yami, Fernando, Eduardo and Alejandro. Fernando is about to graduate from High School and will start college in the fall. Am I really the father of an 18-year old? It’s hard to believe.
I’m an Austinite with a little bit of New York in me. Let me explain.
I was born in New York City, and lived there for the first 11 years of my life. That was a magical time. The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Greenwich Village, The American Museum of Natural History, pizza, hero sandwiches, bagels, subways, taxis, the people.
They say when you leave New York you ain’t going nowhere. While that’s not really true, I’ll always carry a little bit of New York in me.
Like when we got on the QE2 to take the 6-day slow boat to England, this pompous British dude with an officer’s hat greeted us as we were boarding the ship and said “welcome to civilization.” At 11 years of age I knew he was wrong.
England was fine. I lived there till I was 18, and my main extra-curricular activities were playing the guitar and going to pubs.
It was kind of a shock to come to Austin and start life at the University of Texas where I wasn’t legal to drink.
But I digress.My love-affair with Austin started earlier.
My father is from Mexico City, and my mother from Dallas. I grew up as both a Mexican and an American, visiting both places almost every summer, and sometimes for Christmas.
A typical summer would be: finish school in New York, travel to Dallas by Amtrak, walk around my grandparents’ Dallas neighborhood barefoot with my younger uncles, and then we’d travel to Mexico City to spend the rest of the summer there with my Mexican grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins.
It was during one of those summer trips, when I was 14 and my sister 12, that my parents sent us to travel to Mexico and then Texas by ourselves. I thought it was funny that on the plane from London to Mexico City there were two 16-year old girls who had to travel as “unaccompanied minors” with those silly little necklaces around their necks that carry all your documents, and had to wait for the flight attendant to escort them out. It never occurred to us or our parents that we needed anything like this.
It was the summer of 1980, and after leaving Mexico we went to Texas, and made a little side trip to Austin to visit a couple of groovy aunts that lived there.
That was the summer I fell in love with Austin. My aunt Libby snuck my sister and me into Steamboat to watch Stevie Ray Vaughn, and I was transfixed. That same night we also caught a punk concert, and that was it, I was hooked. I caught the Austin “vibe,” and that little bit of New York in me said it was ok to like Austin.
I left England and went to UT after finishing high school\, met my beautiful wife Yami. We went to UC Davis for two years, lived in Long Beach for a few years where our first two children were born, and then moved back to Austin, had another kid, moved to New York, and then moved BACK to Austin AGAIN, and then had another kid.
You get the picture. No matter where we go we end up back in Austin, but I still have that little bit of New York in me that craves for a big city again.
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