I’m in Austin, TX, I’m amazed, and I’m impressed. The downtown of Austin is broken up into two deeply different worlds. One world, which is luxury and wealthy is located by my left hand. I’m sitting on a high chair at the Starbucks, Congress av., downtown Austin. I see the top of the beautiful Capitol building ahead. On Sunday morning I admired hundreds good-looking healthy people who were running around, on Sunday lunch time I was among dozens with Mimosa cocktails, which is sparkling wine and orange juice, in their hands. French chees plates, nice dressed up women, refined breeds of dogs, iPads, MacBooks, happy kids, “It’s real Sunday, - I thought, - Republicans know how to live...’.
I’m sitting on high chair at the Starbucks, looking outside. I see white man in bright jacket with hood on his head; he is talking with a tree about half an hour. I see white woman in shorts with dirty hair, she is sitting on a border of pavement. I met guy his boots were made of newspapers. Some times men in good suits are passing by. But that man who was talking with the tree still is talking with tree. And that woman cannot stand up; she is trying, but unsuccessfully. I walked here by 6th street passing by drunk people, who were already drunk in the morning, people who are living at the bottom of life. I’m very familiar with this picture of life; our small Russian towns are very similar. But there are no contrasts at all in our small towns.
This morning we have been to the office of Democratic group Battleground Texas. The office is located in dramatically poor area of Austin, small wood houses, very old a never renovated, with trash scattered outside and awful smell, smell of poverty. I was walking there and recalling my yellow color sparkling wine from Sunday brunch in couple of miles from my way. What is going here? Why is such a social gap here in Austin downtown?
We have been to the lake located in the central part of the city; we rented puddle boards and went paddling an hour. The city looks great from the water; the new downtown is arising on our eyes. In spite of weekend contractors are working, cranes are revolving. Most likely every new house adds one floor each week. The construction is everywhere here. I’m trying to keep balance on my board and looking down to the water. The dark green muddiness doesn’t look like the best place for outdoor activities. There are fragments of sewage, plants, plastic, and trash in the water. Again I feel smell of poverty. May be people abandoned this town for a while, returned and started renovation? May be recession looks like that, or depression and crisis? The pictures of Austin don’t match with my perception of American standards. And such a gap between two different worlds here doesn’t match with my perception of American society. I know a lot about shelters, welfare, non-profits, and volunteers here in the states, and probably in no one country in the world besides US has so many people who involved in helping to others, but what is going on here?
I like Austin and I don’t like Austin simultaneously, I want to post a photo on my FB wall with enthusiastic comments, and in seconds I want to write something unpleasant. I know someone would say: ”America is not socialist country, we have people who work and we have people who don’t work”, I would ask what about Boston or Minneapolis?
I sincerely don’t understand.