b'An Excerpt from A Visit from AustinBy Thomas Austin17The Steam Room is Stephs and my favorite coffee shop. Steph is my girlfriend of three years, but about a year ago, a job opportunity she couldnt pass up tore her from Austin and the home we shared there. The job brought her all the way to Houston where I finally get to trade holding her through a cellphone to embracing her in my arms for the first time in two months. I was so excited to see her, that I actually showed up forty-five minutes early so that I could reserve our favorite booth, just underneath the replica Van Gogh and Monet paintings she loves to critique. I finally see her parking her beat-up old Nissan with distorted paint on the top, a car far too grotesque to transport such a beautiful woman. I guess this once-in-a-life-time job opportunity hasnt paid off quite yet. She is wearing that gorgeous light-blue summer dress with yellow flowers liberally splattered yet carefully placed on the fabric. She knows that dress is my absolute favorite, and it fills me with even more excitement than before.You got the booth! she exclaims as she greets me with my anticipated embrace. I just still cant wrap my mind around pairing a French impressionist painting with a Dutch post-impressionist painting, she remarks with an eye-roll, at least have the common decency to pair Monet with Paul Czanne for goodness sakes! Even though I had no idea what she was talking about, Steph had this way of making you forget your ignorance by entrancing you with her light-hazel eyes and curved black eyelashes. Once in their grip, you couldnt help but agree with whatever liberal-artsy agenda she was pushing on you. Maybe we could offer to donate those replica Bob Ross paintings we made on your birthday! Im sure we could negotiate a fair price of five dollars or so, I jokingly say. Steph loves to make fun of my painting skills, but I guess thats what I get for dating a multimedia artist working out of Houston. She just chuckles and goes to order her coffee.| 19 |'