In 1995, I left my home in Richardson, Texas, to go to college at UT in Austin. I studied English there for four years and got my teaching certificate, and when I graduated in 1999, I decided to stay. Austin was a cool town: liberal, young, easy to navigate, and full of green spaces and swimming holes and bats and music. There was a lot to love.
The longer I stayed, the more I found to love. Over the past twenty-seven years, I made life-long friends, taught more than 1500 seventh graders, married my husband, and found myself. I lived all over Austin—north, central, east, southwest—with roommates and alone and with pets I’ll never forget. I swam in Barton Springs, went to concerts at Stubbs and La Zona Rosa and The Continental Club, took countless strolls through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Violet Crown Trails, and tried every coffee shop I could find. I let Austin become a part of me, and I’d like to think I, in turn, became a part of the city I loved.
Austin has changed a lot over the past couple of decades. Apparently, you only have to be an Austinite a couple of weeks before you get to start complaining about other people moving in and ruining things, but I definitely put in the time to earn my opinions about outsiders. Despite the growth, though, I still love Austin, still think it has a lot to offer, still think there are plenty of people keeping things weird.
That’s why it was so hard to leave.
At the start of June, I packed up my house and life and moved back to Richardson with the hubby and pets.
There were many reasons for the move. Mostly, I wanted to be closer to my family, a feeling I’ve had for a while but which was deepened by the pandemic. I was also ready to walk away from teaching again. (Permanently this time? Maybe. Probably. But all that is for a different post.) So, it seemed natural to combine one big move with another.
Part of the decision can probably be chalked up to a mini mid-life crisis on my part. After the past two years, I found myself wanting CHANGE. Covid shrunk our worlds. When the pandemic forced us inside our homes, I obediently folded myself up into a tiny package, got comfy, and stayed there. My isolation was safe and cozy, and I was grateful that the tiny world that became my cocoon was such a happy one. But when society opened up again, I found myself wanting more than just out of my house. I wanted something new.
Not too new, obviously, since I chose to move back to my hometown. Living in Richardson as a woman in my forties isn’t the same as living here as a kid. The town’s changed, and I’ve changed, but our roots are still the same.
We’ve been here two weeks now, and I already miss the people and places I loved in Austin. But there’s a lot to love here, too. New scenery, new walking trails, new coffee shops, and new opportunities to jump back into some dusty writing projects. Plus, a lot of familiar faces I love seeing every day.
What does this mean for future blog posts? Not much. I’m still writing from my same little desk, just with a new view out the window. And I still have my same writing companions, just with new spots to fall asleep to the sound of my typing. I’m looking forward to my new life here, and looking forward to sharing it with you.
Note: This piece is being posted from my favorite new coffee shop, Staycation, because after two weeks of living here, we still don’t have internet. We’ve had two cables buried in our yard, two installers who came to the house, two installers who didn’t come to the house, and we’ve racked up roughly eight hours of phone time/ hold time/ trying-to-keep-our-blood-pressure-down time with Spectrum*, but we still can’t watch Stranger Things. (So don’t you dare talk to us about it!) Based on the empathy we’ve received from family and friends over this, I know we’re not alone. I’m thinking of forming a support group for people whose lives have been negatively affected by Spectrum, but we’d have to meet in person because… no internet.
* Before you suggest we go with someone else, we have very few options where we are, and I refuse to start over with someone new after going through all this. But, if you have a choice, I recommend you don’t choose Spectrum.