Six years behind us, leaving notes to our future selves in the Cathedral of Junk.

March 1st, 2014, 3pm

It was 26.7°C with broken clouds. The breeze was gentle.

None of us can remember exactly how we hit upon a whole day embracing the tackiest and true-bluest of Americana. As graduate students we were rich in time, all that angst had to go somewhere, and J. was feeling pretty down. The least we could do to cheer up our British friend, we decided, was create an occasion, convince strangers of its veracity, and dress in appropriate costume. So we made up a holiday.

Patterns have emerged over the seven years and six America Day celebrations - one of our number is consistently roped into bachelorette antics he couldn’t be less intrigued by, and I’ve discovered an ease to chatting up men in bars while cosplaying Wonder Woman. By mutual agreement, there is no photographic evidence taken after sundown, and final planning is done by group consensus that morning. All of which brings us to breakfast tacos last Saturday morning in Austin because breakfast is the protein-packed beginning of all golden days in America, and because egg yolks absorb the residue of huckleberry vodka and jicama water (don’t ask) from America Day Eve.

I walked in with large sunglasses and without my cape (too early), and M. ordered a breakfast taco that arrived around a waffle under fried chicken and with a plastic ramekin of syrup. America Day has always been about hybridity and absurdity. And since we three agree with Mae West that too much of a good thing can be wonderful, imagine our delight as we then found guacamole under the queso! Strong opening for America Day VI.

Breakfast tacos are the food of the gods – or superheroes of the DC Comics universe anyway, yet we still had to U-turn for a cinderblock building mural with a bald eagle two stories high. In our defense, Superman was smoking his second cigarette of the day (he’s really going to quit this year), and we were busily coordinating with our fourth America Day team member to meet at the graffiti park and watch long stretches of wall be prepped and painted for new designs.

The pink Capitol building followed shaken spray cans at Castle Hill – we were briefly waylaid by a lady in running shorts on a scavenger hunt proposing to me on one knee with her enormous diamond ring (Go, Texas! May I please keep it if I say yes?) while her partner looked on – before we entered the rotunda echoing with claps along with the polka band. The petite woman in charge of the ‘Lone Star Kids’ program approached and pointed at her slumping charges sitting cross-legged in rows in their historically accurate costumes. We waved at each other and took photos over the terrific noise that is a polka band, an announcer in a brimmed hat and greatcoat, bored schoolchildren on a Saturday field trip, and some randoms who are into the great state’s municipal design decisions. The America Day VI team looked away from the outsized oil portraits of a presidential dynasty on our way back outside into the sunlight. My Lasso of Truth waits for worthier tasks.

Brisket sandwiches were in order as a fifth member joined the group before we moved all the cars to pick up a king cake for Mardi Gras from a bake shop/beer garden. A bake shop/beer garden. I stopped to ask a handsome gentleman at the bar who he was writing postcards to: his family, he said with a sweet drawl, happy to be interrupted. Sadly, he lives down the street from my Brooklyn apartment. Team America drank craft beers in the courtyard in 82 degrees F and journeyed onward.

Our second appointment of the day brought us out to suburban Austin and a private backyard for the Cathedral of Junk, a personal monument to technological decay welded together, all spires and nooks. We took the not-hidden-if-you’re-looking-for-‘em tire steps around the back of the fantastical junkscape and sat in the hideout filled with bike wheels, compact discs, and street signs. Where will we be seven years from now? Writing messages on found ticket stubs, we slipped notes to our future selves in between wheel spokes and squinted at the sun as we vacated our temporary clubhouse.

Time for sugar in the form of old-school lollipops on South Congress, and a clerk in a wonderful vintage store who noted my outfit and volunteered that she was laying the voice tracks for a Wonder Woman television show the following day. “I am the manifestation of your future,” I laughed. “Yes,” she said seriously, gathering up hangers in her arms. It takes a lot to faze the locals.

They did pause mid-bite above fish tacos at patio tables a few dozen feet away as I made the acquaintance of a parrot named Samson, who liked my neck better than perching on my arm and almost took my long purple locks off. Clearly Samson was confused, as my true name on America Day is Diana of Themyscira, not Delilah, and anyway, it’s his plumage that holds the power. But it was a dramatic moment nevertheless as Samson struggled in my purple curls while his owner untangled him and I closed my eyes and held my hairline, wondering how all of the onlookers would caption the videos they were taking. Next year we will place advertisements and post flyers. Maybe people would show up for a small parade?

Our final stop was to a piñata warehouse, one of many in a specific part of town next to the interstate. Between cartoon characters and princesses, giant cakes and papier mâché animals, there were lines of miniature superheroes as tall as my thigh. The little men were hollow, though, and we walked out of the store to merge back onto the highway and roll our windows down as we drove into the sunset, these forever friends of mine…

Anne Marie, Philippe, Cassie, Chris and 2 others said thanks.

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Kristen Taylor

drinker of raw milk, founder/editor of @saucymag, call me @kthread

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