Normally, we’re dealing with a bunch of New Yorkers. But not this week, no. This week, we get JP from the great state of Texas and a Wisconsin-gone-New York-gone-Texas transplant in Stephanie.
As always, original text in italics.
One Love, Two Steps
Life on the campaign trail for support staff often involves long days that lead to lonely nights in scantly furnished short-term rentals, with no real-life social network to engage in outside of colleagues.
Looks like these two started dippin’ the ol’ pen in the company ink. Dangerous territory, you two. Let’s see how this pans out.
Stephanie Schweitzer, a political operative, had fallen victim to this routine when she relocated in January 2014 from New York to Austin, Tex., to work as deputy regional finance director on the gubernatorial run of Wendy Davis, a Texas senator known for her 11-hour filibuster against Senate Bill 5, an anti-abortion measure. Ms. Schweitzer, who said she had settled into a “pretty pathetic” apartment with only a bed, found herself feeling “a bit ungrounded and foreign.”
Well yeah, Stephanie. You’re a city-slicker on the streets of Texas. Remember those Pace Picante Sauce commercials from the early ’90s where the cowboys sat around a campfire complaining about salsa that’s made in New York City? That’s pretty much what moving to Texas is like.
Refusing to accept the fate of her peripatetic career, Ms. Schweitzer, now 36, recalled how she joined a group called Liberal Ladies Who Lunch, through which she was introduced to another single woman around her age. When she mentioned to her new friend that she wanted to try two-stepping even though she didn’t yet own cowboy boots, her friend suggested that together they check out the Love Leighs, a roots band with two ukuleles, who were playing the White Horse, a honky-tonk on Austin’s east side. The friend’s interest in going waned as the time came closer because she was nursing a hangover, but Ms. Schweitzer insisted.
Can you think of a worse group of people to go out to lunch with than the Liberal Ladies Who Lunch? I wouldn’t even say I’m that conservative by any means, but that lunch just sounds like a place where an incredible amount of bitching goes down. But hey, if they’re single and down to hit the town for a little two-steppin’, that’s alright with me.
“I didn’t want to show up alone, because I was sick of just showing up places and not knowing people and feeling awkward and then being like, forget it, I’m leaving,” Ms. Schweitzer said.
Well, yeah, if you show up alone to a bar, you’re either an alcoholic or a prostitute.
There at the White Horse, known as the Horse, she met Juan Pablo Garza, or JP, who grew up on the Texas-Mexico border and for whom cowboy boots were a staple. He gave her every reason to stay.
Hell yeah, JP. I know this is optimistic, but I’m picturing him as the country version of Antonio Banderas. You can’t make me think otherwise.
The route into politics taken by Ms. Schweitzer, a Wisconsin native with Sheboygan County dairy farmers on both sides of the family, was a byproduct of an acting career gone awry. In 2002, after graduating with a musical theater degree from Syracuse University, she moved to New York to pursue her dreams of becoming an actor, but ended up as a guide from 2004 to 2013 for On Location Tours. She regularly hosted a “Sex and the City” Hotspots Tour, with destinations including the stoop of the Perry Street brownstone where the fictional Carrie Bradshaw lived and where tourists would constantly stop for selfies.
This sounds like Fool’s Rush In but with the roles reversed, which is something I’m not opposed to at all.
Real talk though, can you be more basic than someone that hosts a fucking “Sex and the City” Hotspots Tour?
“I think I was that girl that, like, wanted to be Carrie,” Ms. Schweitzer said.
OMG, that’s like, so quirky of you. Just kidding, every girl that watches “Sex and the City” would die for Carrie Bradshaw.
As a way to build her acting reel, Ms. Schweitzer had produced a short video on eating disorders, an affliction she had struggled with personally. Energized by the effort, she took on lobbying stints in Washington for the Eating Disorders Coalition. Later, in 2012, she volunteered on President Obama’s re-election campaign. From there she interned with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and was a field organizer in New Jersey for Cory Booker’s successful Senate campaign.
Um, okay. Next. Can’t rain on that parade.
With Rick Perry heading for the exits as governor of Texas, a colleague pitched her on considering a move to the Lone Star State, where a shake-up in the political landscape seemed to be brewing.
Keep Austin Weird, am I right? Listen, Stephanie — if I’ve learned anything about being in Texas, it’s that outside of the Austin city limits, ain’t nothin’ changing. Texas is how it’s always going to be and a little lady from Wisconsin ain’t gonna be the one changing it.
The potential for change increased significantly when shortly after Ms. Schweitzer’s friend had floated the idea, Wendy Davis announced she was running for governor on the heels of her much-publicized filibuster in pink Mizuno running shoes.
Is this Meet The Press or a damn wedding announcement? Come on. I’m here to rip on some random couple’s happiness, not listen to someone drone on about a political campaign.
“This was really interesting to me because not only was it like this woman that was super inspiring and an issue I cared deeply about,” Ms. Schweitzer said, “but it wasn’t just about that cycle. There was something longer at stake. And I just got this bee in my bonnet that I was going to work for Wendy Davis.”
You got this “bee” in your “bonnet”? Okay, maybe she will do well in Texas.
Mr. Garza was already at the White Horse that Sunday night in March, dancing to the Conjunto Los Pinkys band, when Ms. Schweitzer showed up with her friend, whom Mr. Garza happened to know.
Gotta think this “friend” was setting the two up, and you also have to think that the first thought in JP’s head when he saw her was, “Target: Acquired.”
Mr. Garza has never fully let go of his boyhood dream of playing Major League Baseball. He learned the game as a child in the South Texas border city of Laredo and eventually worked his way up to join the Cosme Ordoñez team, an all-star squad of high school kids who would pile in Mr. Garza’s Toyota pickup truck and cross over the border to play men in their mid-20s who were vying for spots on Mexican professional teams. As reality began to set in that his shot with the majors had eluded him, Mr. Garza pursued a nursing degree from Laredo Community College. He ultimately chose to focus on dialysis because it gave him Sundays off to play in recreational adult baseball leagues.
I’m not here to tell someone what path they should take in life, but I was not expecting JP to go from trying to dominate the major leagues to becoming a nurse. And if anyone saw his career trajectory going like that, you’re a better man than I.
“I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing since I was 8 years old,” Mr. Garza, now 47, said. “Play baseball and be responsible for what I’ve got to get done. I don’t try to do too much because I might take away from playing on Sundays — that’s my outlet.”
Love it. This dude is just a gamer, through and through. My goal in life is to have a standing tee time at a country club where I consider anything that impedes on it to be blasphemy. Good for JP.
He also got married and divorced, prompting the reignition of his passion for dancing — something that was first stoked when as a child he would go with his family on Friday nights to dance cumbias and waltzes to the live bands playing at the local hall in Laredo.
And JP’s plot thickens. Baseball star? Nurse? Dancer? Modern day Ricky Ricardo.
“After the divorce I was feeling like I’d never find love again,” Mr. Garza said. “I had my opportunities, but it just didn’t click. Not meant to happen then. For a while I would play the ‘because I love, I’ll let you go if you want to go’ game. ‘It is what it is’ game. ‘I love you, but I’m not in love with you’ game. I guess this is how I would gauge their love for me or mine for them.”
Why are you so emo, JP? Real talk. You’re a baller baseball player, you dance like no one is watching, and you have the nurturing tendencies of an actual nurse. You’re a catch, bro. You’re like the adult version of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.
By the time he and Ms. Schweitzer met at the White Horse, Mr. Garza had adopted a regular Sunday routine of playing nine innings with his team, the Austin Arch Angels, and then go dancing at the Horse, where he’d become one of the regulars. “I hosed off, kept my cup-holder shorts on, changed into jeans and a clean shirt,” he said.
Keeping the cup-holder shorts on is a power move. Sweaty balls? Who gives a fuck? I’m just going to get them even more sweaty by dancing my dick off during a casual Sunday Funday. Hell yeah, JP. Keep that musk going.
Ms. Schweitzer liked what she saw on the dance floor as Mr. Garza and her friend shuffled along. “At one point he was bringing her back over toward me,” she said, “and I just whacked him and I was like, ‘When’s it my turn?’ ” So they danced, first to songs by the Love Leighs and then the Soul Supporters.
Dirty Dancing: Texas Nights, anyone? This has me hot just thinkin’ about it.
She, too, had a love of dance that stretched back to her childhood. “When I was younger, my dad and I used to have these nights where he would get out all of his old 45s and we would dance until we were out of breath,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “He used to pick me up in his arms during the theme from Zeffirelli’s ‘Romeo & Juliet.’ I’ll never forget those memories.”
Confession: as a kid, I remember waiting until my parents left to go out to dinner before I’d toss something on our CD changer and rock out to it. My personal favorites were (and still are to this day) the My Girl and Sister Act soundtracks. Yeah, say what you want about them, but they were fire and all we really had. It was either that or attempt to let my babysitter let me watch Pretty Woman.
“You become one when you’re on the floor,” Mr. Garza said. “You want to go this way, she follows you. She knows. She anticipates where you’re going to go. It’s a pretty feeling — a feeling with no words. It’s just all touch. Listen. Sense. The nature of things.”
Damn, and all this time I was just singing along trying not to spill my Salty Dog on the people next to me.
Before that night at the Horse was over, Mr. Garza dangled before Ms. Schweitzer the possibility of more swings around the dance floor. He didn’t quite ask her on a date but he casually mentioned that he would be at the Horse the next Friday for the Cajun band Gumbo Ce Soir. This time she arrived alone. Mr. Garza quickly spotted her and pulled her out onto the floor. The next day they had a rendezvous at the Continental Club, for Redd Volkaert, who used to play in Merle Haggard’s band, and then later that Saturday night they hit Güeros and the Rattle Inn.
Despite the fact that I still think it’s a little psycho to show up at a bar alone, I do love the trajectory of these two. I can feel the romance in my latin-inspired loins. Chances are that I was probably Rattle Inn that same night drinking Ranch Waters with Dave.
That was the night she started feeling something for him. As they got back to their respective cars, she asked him about the next spot. He suggested still more dancing that Sunday at the Oasis on Lake Travis, and also that he pick her up this time. When he dropped her off at her apartment at the end of the night, they had their first kiss.
Wait, they are going to all these bars and dancing… sober? How else are they driving home? Who dances sober? Just when I thought I was fully onboard with these two, this had to happen. Damn you, JP and Stephanie.
More whirlwind weekends were to follow for the tireless couple. By June, it was Mr. Garza’s turn to signal his seriousness to her — but he did it in a most curious way. He asked Ms. Schweitzer if Sadie, her cat, might consider moving in with him. The message confused Ms. Schweitzer at first but then she realized Mr. Garza’s coy humor.
Okay. Just… just no. JP, you don’t ask a sober cat lady to move in with you, especially in that way. What are you thinking, man? Get out while you still can and keep tearing up the dance floor solo after Sunday baseball.
One morning in October, Mr. Garza and Ms. Schweitzer were lying in bed. He began reading lyrics to the song “If I Were a Carpenter,” the Tim Hardin folk tune later popularized by Johnny and June Carter Cash.
If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady
Would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?
Goddammit. Don’t waste Johnny Cash lyrics on Stephanie, JP. You’re better than this.
But when Senator Davis’s bid for governor fell short, Ms. Schweitzer was suddenly faced with leaving Austin for Louisville, Ky., where Jack Conway, who was running for attorney general in Kentucky, wanted her on his campaign’s finance staff.
Leave, Stephanie. Go. Forget about JP and live your life without him. He’s better off without you, and you without him. Move to Louisville and never look back.
“I wasn’t really interested in the job, but professionally this is what I had been working for,” said Ms. Schweitzer, who flew to Louisville for a two-day interview. When she landed the job, she said it was like a punch to the gut. They wanted her to start right away, but she and Mr. Garza had a trip to New York planned. This bought her — and him — a week to deliberate.
I mean, we all know how this is going to end, unfortunately. I want this to be like the series finale of Frasier when Dr. Crane meets that broad on the plane en route to Chicago, but obviously JP is going to just propose to Stephanie and fuck us all over.
“He could have possibly tried to get a traveling assignment there,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “But it just didn’t seem fair to ask him to uproot his life so that I could launch back into a crazy schedule, working long hours, traveling all the time and living in a tiny, temporary apartment.”
He’s the best you’re gonna get, Steph. Just stay in Austin and ruin the man’s life.
Ms. Schweitzer added, “I felt if I was going to choose him, I needed to choose him.”
I was waiting for the token “barf” moment in this marriage announcement. And there it was.
So she did, and backed out of the Kentucky job. Before long she found a job with the Texas Civil Rights Project, where she is now the fund-raising director.
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. I wanted these two to be awesome. I wanted to imagine them having steamy dances together on hot Texas dance floors. I wanted them to be the couple you look at and can feel the heat emanating from. But nah, she works for Texas Civil Rights Project and sober drives to bars alone.
She and Mr. Garza were married April 2 at the Red Corral Ranch, in the Hill Country near Wimberley, Tex., where cellphone service is nonexistent and a collection of peacocks intermittently squawked, providing comic relief.
No cellphones and peacocks. Sounds like a real hoot.
During the ceremony, held outside on a peerless Saturday afternoon under oak trees dotted with dream catchers, and with about 150 guests looking on, the couple performed an earth, air, fire, water processional during which they combined soils from Ms. Schweitzer’s two family farms and Mr. Garza’s Little League baseball field.
Combining soils sounds really disgusting if you don’t know the context. But if we’re being honest, this sounds like a chill-ass wedding spot. And that’s not even me being sarcastic. That’s be imagining a bunch of strung lights glowing through dreamcatchers while someone strums a guitar.
Bill Ogilvie, a dancing acquaintance who is also a Universal Life minister, talked about openness and humility as virtues that bring dancing partners together. After the ceremony, Mr. Ogilvie revealed, “JP was a ladies’ man until he met Stephanie. He used to have four or five women lined up to dance with him.”
JP! Four or five women lined up! And you chose Stephanie? I’m done. Done with you, done with this announcement, done with everything.
The reception was a re-creation of the night they first met: Guests danced to live music by the Love Leighs and Soul Supporters and ate from a wedding cake depicting the White Horse’s red-and-black-tiled dance floor.
Boooo. Boooooooooooooo. I want the old JP back. The freewheelin’, baseball playin’, straight shootin’ JP that we all came to know and love.
The bridesmaids, almost exclusively New Yorkers, expressed amazement over Ms. Schweitzer. One said, “She said she’d never live more than five blocks from Bergdorf’s.” Another said, “Prada, Escada, Miu Miu — she had it all.”
Oh my God, that’s so Carrie of her.
When it was time for Ms. Schweitzer’s maid of honor, Staci Jacobs, to give a toast, she brought it all back to “Sex and the City.” After all, Ms. Schweitzer still has a place on the Upper West Side and Mr. Garza seems to increasingly like visiting the city. Quoting Carrie Bradshaw, Ms. Jacobs said, “I am someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.” And then she said, “And it’s here in this city, on this ranch, in this room.”
Stephanie and her friends definitely sit around the table at brunch discussing which characters from “Sex and the City” they are. Unforgivable. .
[via New York Times]
Image via Unsplash