When I moved to Austin, I had known I would leave. After backpacking through Australia and working a season outside of Yellowstone I was ready to stay put for a while. I wanted to have a sense of community. I wanted friends that weren’t transient. And yet I pictured myself on a three to five year plan. There were still so many places left to see. So many places I wanted to experience.
I had no idea how strong of a community I would become a part of. I did not understand how connected I would feel to the place I worked even though I wasn’t crazy about my job. You don’t have to like everything about a place to still really love it.
But then there was a boy. A real cute one I decided to marry and move away for. In some ways, he made it easier to move. It was a catalyst for what I felt would eventually become necessary. Eventually I would want to spread my wings again and explore but without him, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to leave friends I depended on.
Six months ago on December 15th we packed up our truck and car, packed beyond what anyone might consider safe, and headed east. Even though there were a lot of tears (not me, definitely him…) and adjusting was hard, I haven’t felt like moving was a mistake. I haven’t questioned our decision, but then again I hadn’t yet had to face going back to Austin yet.
Last week we got to visit Austin for the first time since moving. It was nice to go back after only being away six months. I thought that I would just do and eat all my favorite Austin things but in Austin, you just are constantly do new things. That’s how life is.
I was ecstatic to eat at East Side Kings at the Hole in the Wall location for lunch when we arrived. I tried the Chicken Tortilla Ramen for the first time which was delicious although I think I would preferred my standard Tori Meshi and an order of beet fries. Some things can’t be beat (get it? beets can’t be beat!). Our first night our dearest friends hosted supper club (my number one thing I miss about Austin) at their house. It was well attended and I was surrounded by the best folks.
Thursday I got to visit several of my favorite establishments and attend a beautiful wedding. I introduced my old boss to Cenote and took some old coworkers to Gourmands. Shiner broccoli cheese soup- be still my heart! We were almost late to the wedding- it’s better to arrive before the bride walks down the aisle- but we didn’t miss the ceremony. The rain was kind enough to hold off to the bitter end.
I woke up in the morning to Longhorn cattle sauntering by. Is there a more Texas way to start the day?
On the way into town we stopped at Schmidt’s barbecue which isn’t my favorite but the brisket and jalapeno macaroni and cheese definitely hit the spot. After a failed attempt to visit the Greenbelt we stopped for a dip at Big Stacy Pool which I had never been to before. Dinner at Sawyer & Co ($5 out of this world cocktails? Yes, please.) was new to me as well. The retro theme, complete with Astroturf outside, won me over instantly.
The night ended sitting in the bed of a truck with friends watching musicians cover Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska in the doorway of a place called The Museum of Human Achievement. Considering we were drinking Lonestars, it could not have felt more Austin.
Everything was perfect except the knowledge that this was the last time I would visit and feel like I was a part of everything. As time continues to separate me from the period where I was an Austinite, the city will grow more like a stranger. I will go back and recognize less places. My friends will be doing new or different things. They will be dating new or different people. I will not be able to simply insert myself into old routines. Life will go on but in Austin I won’t know what that means.