As my time in Austin starts to wind down and I reach my four year anniversary here, it’s hard not to reflect on how I got here. At 28 I am recently married, in a career path that I’m very excited about, about to move back to my home state (something I really didn’t think would happen).
A little over four years ago, right before I moved to Austin, I was living in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone at a lodge. I was doing the seasonal work thing and while I loved all the hiking and nature of where I was and the friends I’d made, I was at a particularly low point in my life. I was behaving in ways that really disappointed me and feeling pretty low and confused. It seemed to me that I’d been feeling this way for quite a while and was sick of it. While in Wyoming an old friend came through the state twice while on tour with Leo Rondeau (check him out!) and told me about how much I would like Austin. He invited me to come visit when I drove through Texas to visit family on the way back to North Carolina.
The decision to move here was made almost as soon as I got here. Everyone seemed to be from somewhere else which made me feel like less of an outsider. Each person I met was friendly and welcoming. Everyone wanted to dance. Done and done!
I was miserable for the first month of living here. My friend was on tour when I first moved here and I only knew one other person. It took me almost two months to find a job waiting tables. New Year’s Eve was the first time things really started to turn around. I went to a party with my roommate and his friends. The party seemed to be full of people who didn’t really know each other and it was easy to talk to everyone. That night my first real friend in Austin, Natalie, and I agreed to go out soon for a meal. It was also the first night that my one-day-hubby and I kissed (not at midnight though- I cheers-ed a bunch of total strangers at midnight).
Once I started hanging out with Natalie I started making friends. I also moved into a house via Craigslist and met some great people. Over time a friend group grew. I’ve been lucky enough to have several great groups of friends throughout my life but this is probably the first time that I felt comfortable from the very beginning. Perhaps because I was a little older and not going through major life growing pains, but it has been such a joy to know not just one but multiple people in Austin that I could just simply be with. It has been an unexpected and much needed gift of living here.
In Austin I also found a focus in my working life. I had been working hospitality up until this point and was waiting tables when I waited on the President, a Vice President and a Director at my current company. The President of the company handed me his business card and told me to call for an interview. The first job I had there wasn’t my favorite. It was like working at a call center, but after about eighteen months the HR Manager granted me an interview and took a chance by hiring me as the HR Coordinator. I didn’t know what I was getting into to but I’m so glad I did it. I’ve always liked customer service but direct customer contact can be grating and burn you out. Working in Human Resources my “customers” are my coworkers. They are the ones I help with their benefits or time cards. It’s satisfying to help the people around you and figuring out the world of benefits is like figuring out a constantly shifting puzzle. Every time I walk away from the puzzle someone has scrambled up the pieces I’d previously put together (I’m looking at you, Obama) but I still enjoy coming back and trying to understand what’s changed and what I need to do about it.
The biggest surprise to moving to Austin is also the reason I’m leaving it, my husband. We met almost four years ago and in a week he flies out to get started on our new adventure. Considering I had serious doubts at one point about getting married (before I met him) and North Carolina wasn’t previously on my list of places to move to, it’s shocking to find myself here. It is; however, the most pleasant surprise. I am nervous about making new friends and excited about exploring a new place. I am sad to leave my friends here and am so happy to get to see family more often. It’s just so hard to know what’s in store ahead!
But these four years in Austin I will always remember as the best changes of my life.