Texarkana-Tennessee

I made the sad decision to leave Austin a night early so that I could break up the drive between Austin and Nashville. I booked a hotel in Dallas and only spent about eight hours there, but you can bet that I went back to the breakfast buffet for thirds to make sure I got my money’s worth. At that point, I was getting antsy about spending so much time in the car, but I still enjoyed watching the landscapes change from dry plains to lush greens, and stopping in silly places like Texarkana.

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My original plan was to stay and camp for a night in Hot Springs National Park, but I’m glad I cut that out of the agenda. Perhaps because it seemed like one of the least natural parks I’ve come across, or perhaps it was because I was listening to the national park abductions episode of Wine & Crime and one of their warnings was to never visit a national park alone. Moving right along…

The food tour continued at Central BBQ in Memphis, and the barbecue honestly was to die for, so if I happened to be abducted or murdered in a national park, I would be content that this was my last meal.

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A Weekend in Austin!

The drive from New Mexico to Texas wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the previous day’s, but it did allow me to stop by my old stomping grounds of Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock to help break up the drive. I had a Trailer Park taco, which is fried chicken with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese, and you can bet I ordered it trashy, which means add queso, yes, please and thank you. Oh yeah, I also stopped at Chick Fil A because I couldn’t decide, and that was the way I was living my road trip life.

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Anyway, it was five boring hours to Lubbock and five boring hours after that, but I finally landed in my previous home: Austin, TX! We popped open some drinks right away and went out to Rain dance club, which was shockingly one of the first bars I ever visited in Austin during my first trip there back in 2011! Life hath come full circle.

Obviously, there were many more tacos to eat. As much as I love that trashy trailer park taco, I do think Torchy’s is a little overrated (*gasp*), and I prefer Tacodeli (my number one fave) and Tacos Veracruz (they now have a brick and mortar up north, hallelujah!) Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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I took a class at BFree Yoga with my teacher Shelby because she’s the best. Then we spent a magical day at the pool and donned wigs in the night. It was a perfect weekend full of friends and fun!

Hyde Park Bar and Grill

Weddings in Austin

If anyone wants to get married to me, please just send me an Instagram DM and make sure you’re ok with getting married in Austin! I know it’s become THE place for bachelor and bachelorette parties, but after attending my friends’ lovely wedding this weekend, I’m thinking it could be one of the best places to do the actual thing.

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Austin is sweetly located a few quick steps away from beautiful Hill Country. It’s a fine place to dance and eat catered BBQ, but they also have tacos if you’re not so into smoked meats. There are lots of trees surrounding precious barns for celebrating, and a short ride into the city will get you to the afterparty scene. What better way to celebrate love?

I felt incredibly lucky to be a part of the couple’s special day. We had a blast two-stepping into the night.

Notes From the Road (Pt. I)

(6:20am)

Today is the day where I leave Austin and I don’t come back. I don’t have plans to come back. I drew the Cloak of Christ card from my roommate’s Rumi deck. I held my hands up to the barely lit sky asking for universal protection on this journey. It’s the longest I’ve ever driven on my own.

Hour 1- I listen to 102.3 The Beat radio station to see how far it goes. I cry, not in a heaving, debilitating way, but in a gentle, nostalgic way that comes with an accepted goodbye. Austin deserves a good cry.

Hour 2- 102.3 The Beat makes it farther than I was expecting-- all the way north of Austin where there’s nothing left but churches and cattle fields, and probably much less interest in urban hip-hop radio stations.

Hour 3- I have to pee already, but can’t let myself since it’s only been two hours. My friend Brianne calls me from Argentina. We’ve lived far apart for 8 years but she continues to get me.

Hour 4- I stop to pee and get coffee. I try to leave it black like a healthy person who is bothered by all the nasty stuff in Coffee-Mate, but I see they have pumpkin spice and I pump away.

Hour 5- I listen to Radiohead and the new Khruangbin. I’m dance-driving.

Hour 6- I stop at Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock, TX and the line from the counter out the door takes my breath away. It’s my last Torchy’s though, so I have to stay. I sit at the bar, but it takes a while for anyone to come for my order. I go back to the line. It moves quickly and soon my tacos and I are back at the wheel.

Hours 7 & 8- Lots of windmills. Very flat. I decide to definitely go to see the Cadillac Ranch art installation outside of Amarillo.

Hour 9- The terrain gets more exciting. The dirt turns red and starts forming into mounds and swirls. I see the car art.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX
Cadillac Ranch Amarillo TX

Hour 10- The terrain turns back to flat nothingness.

Hour 11- I call my grandma. She tells me she went to her first chair yoga class so she would feel connected to me. She asks if I will get together with my aunt and cousin when they’re in LA next month. I say yes. She asks me again ten minutes later.

Hour 12- I make it out of Texas. The time changes. I call my dad, my mom, my sister. The Torchy’s and the Cadillacs and the peeing have set me back 2 hours. I don’t mind.

Hour 13- I listen to mp3s from my life coaching course. I see that the sunset is putting on a show for me right as mountains appear on the horizon. Perfect timing. I am thankful.

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Hour 14- It’s dark and the road is winding through the mountains. I discover that I can make a cool buzzing sound if I bend my tongue in a certain way and hum behind my teeth.

I arrive in Red River at 7:20pm. That wasn’t so bad.

Centered in America

Two weeks ago, for a brief time, I came home. To three-fourths of my homes, in fact. In New York, my dad kindly let me fall asleep on the couch at 6pm before dinner, and woke me up so that I wouldn't miss his homemade apple pie. In Austin, the first time, Caroline had a birthday, and we danced for a night into the day. In Savannah, my mom took me to lunch and then to yoga class, even though she just had shoulder surgery and had to wait for an hour in the lobby reading books on her iPhone, which was enough to remind me that I'm too selfish to have kids anytime soon if you've got to be in for 30 years of this mothering business. In Austin, the second time, we looked at art, drank a bunch of beer, and touched noses with a curious llama. It sure was nice to be everywhere.

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Then I wrote this in my journal:

Today, strangely enough, I woke up wondering where I was. For a brief moment, uncertainty. But, as it happens, in an instant the scene filled in around me. Clues. The earth-toned sheets and bedspread. The window to my right, covered in blankets and tapestries like in an overgrown dorm room. A way to save money, or to express a defiant lack of commitment to the space. A jolt of confusion at a sound. Why is my alarm going off? Is it mine, for sure? It is. Oh. Flight check-in. A reminder that in 24 hours I'll be leaving again. International. A roundabout flight, or three. Enough to show that all airports have Starbucks' and people going places. Anyway, we're all checked in. A lump on my chest. The packing, not yet started. Imagining those who have planned ahead and laid out everything a week in advance. Oh well. They were probably not also traveling last week and the week before. December. Here she comes. And we've been going, moving since October. 3 months, maybe, of total movement. It's not so much, considering. Am I growing? Am I changing? Or is this resisting? Escaping? Removing myself from the hurry of the world so while it changes I remain the same.

 

And here's a good old-fashioned Texan sunset:

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Found in Ft. Worth

Nowadays, my family looks a lot different than the mom, dad, sister, and me stick figure drawings I used to sketch out back in grade school. As the years have gone by, it's expanded to include many new faces-- related and non-- who spread far and wide across the country and, occasionally, around the world. Regardless of how untraditional our clan looks today, it's pretty cool that a few weeks ago I was able to drive to North Texas for a mini-family reunion. Sometimes you end up where you never could have expected, and it seems to make the most sense of all.

Side note to Austinites who understandably think it would be silly to venture out of Austin to visit another Texan city: It seems like the Ft. Worth part of DFW might have some cool stuff, too! There were lots of breweries, music, and apartment complexes that look eerily similar to the ones here. Come for the professional sports teams, stay for the beer and tattoos.

Oh yeah, and happy 4th of July y'all!

Waiting in Waco

In case anyone ever claims that I'm not an amazing sibling, let it be known that after months of receiving countless begs and pleas, I finally agreed to make a trip to Magnolia Market at my sister's request.

For people who don't spend their days watching HGTV, Magnolia Market is a Disney Land of brown, white, and green home decor with a lot of long lines and a fancy lawn. For people who know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are, it is the most magnificent place on earth and worth every drop of sweat lost while waiting outside in the Texan sun just to enter the store.

I don't have a house, or the ability to purchase and improve upon anyone else's house, so I was coming in as an outsider who had to Google to remember what shiplap was called. In the end, I  can say that I am glad I was able to visit on a weekday, that the striped lawn beanbag chairs looked very comfortable, and that the shadeless bakery line moves pretty efficiently. If you happen to be in Waco, where I'm pretty sure there is nothing else to do, you might as well stop by.

Lands of Enchantment

If you're a person who thinks ticket prices make it too costly to travel, try buying this $60 tent, packing up your car, and driving over to the next state. You just might find yourself in another world.

Sometimes you can camp for $10. Sometimes you can camp for free. Sometimes it will be too windy to camp and you'll get to sleep in your car, which could have been free, if you hadn't already reserved a campsite.

However you choose to sleep in the great outdoors, get out there! There's a lot to see. 

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Family Firsts

I'm very thankful that my mom was able to come visit last weekend. This was her fourth or fifth time in Austin, but we always manage to find different things to do, like trying new restaurants and checking out art. I'll be returning to many of those places as soon as possible (looking at you, Round Top!) It was nice to have a piece of home here for a few days.

Wandering West

If you thought I would be tired of visiting national parks after this summer's road trip adventure, think again. I'm fully prepared to max out my annual pass and will accept any invitation to visit more before its April expiration date.

Marfa and Big Bend were both magical. 

If you didn't know, Marfa is a little west Texan town full of art galleries, tasty restaurants, and quirk. It was a little unsettling to eat a most excellent meal and then go sleep on the cold ground in our tent, but we made due. 

Then we headed south to see all of this:

I got to soak in my first natural hot springs and then jump into the mighty Rio Grande. I've never felt anything like it. Many thanks were given this year!

Thankful

I'm about to head out to West Texas to visit Marfa and Big Bend for the rest of the week, so of course I'm thankful for that. And to have the week off of work which allowed me to sleep until 10:00 the past two days. Praise be.

But this past month for me has been sad! The world is in a strange place, my roommate and dear friend is en route to move to the East Coast, and the person I love more than anything told me he's leaving, too. No one wants to read blog posts about missing friends or hurting hearts. How whiny! How boring! How trite!

And so I think when people ask, "How are you doing?", they expect the standard, "I'm well. How about you?" Or we feel pressured to say, "I'm doing okay", or, "I feel sad, but things will get better". But sometimes we're just plain old sad. And we know things will get better, but then they'll probably be sad again someday, and get better again, and the cycle will continue on and on forever because that's how life goes.

We learn grasp for the good. Like when Eastside Yoga let me rent out a room to give Lainie a proper send off with her closest Austin friends. Or an unexpected adventure to another National Park. Or the fact that friends and strangers will even ask how you're doing at all.

So I hope you find that it's ok to say when you're sad, and then stop there. And instead of wishing it away so quickly, discover that it can be interesting to sit with a feeling, to find out how you respond to it, and what it has to teach you. That way, probably not today or next week or even by 2017, but whenever you're really ready, you might start to see the goodness glittering around its edges.

Full Moons & Frisco

This weekend got us into some happening "new-to-me" Texas activities. On Friday night, we went to my first Full Moon Swim at Barton Springs, and on Saturday I hesitantly rode in the band van all the way to Frisco, TX to watch B play a show. The two short days flew right by me, but I had a great time and learned some new, not really very surprising things.

Things I learned about Austin this weekend: Austin is a place where people of all ages will gather monthly to swim in 60 degree water at night, howl at the moon, dance, most likely get naked, and probably do some types of drugs. However, this time there were a lot of supervisors walking around the area so I think the naked dancing and drug-doing was not as much as during full moons of the past. Still, anything at Barton Springs gets a 10/10, would do again.

Full moon at Barton Springs

Things I learned about Frisco this weekend: The Frisco Bar has the nicest bartenders of any bar ever. They are just plain cool and friendly without even a hint of better than you bartender superiority. Also, being in Texas, Frisco has a Whataburger and that Whataburger serves honey butter chicken biscuits and that's really all a Texas town needs to be good enough for me. Thank you Frisco for your hospitality and Fouled Out for an awesome show!

Fouled Out @ The Frisco Bar

Fouled Out @ The Frisco Bar

How-to: Labor Day, Austin style

1. Find a lake house

Lake Travis in Austin, Texas

Long, end of summer weekends beg for water. Rent a lake house, make a lake-residing friend, start a relationship with someone who lives on a lake, take over an abandoned dock, etc. Do whatever it takes! It's an investment in your future and you (probably) won't regret it. 

2. Let there be music

Concrete Robot @ Hole in the Wall

Concrete Robot @ Hole in the Wall

Few things could be called "Austin style" without live music. I followed in the footsteps of Spoon/St. Vincent/Doug Sahm/Natalie Portman/a bunch of other famous people when I was treated to my first show at Hole in the Wall on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday after the lake, our smelly, lakey selves wound up at a house show to hear our friend, Jimmy Dee's, angelic vocals. It was all super cool and musical and Austin-y. Plus, there were Oreos. Yay!

3. End it with a free day of yoga

Free Day of Yoga Austin, Texas

I am only half sure that it falls on the same day each year, but this Labor Day happened to coincide with Austin's Free Day of Yoga which brings us tons of different style yoga and meditation classes all over the city. I was happy to help out with my friend David's yoga and meditation in the morning and to enjoy another yoga class in the afternoon. What better way to wrap up your non-laboring weekend than with your choice of stretching, kirtan chants, gong meditations, and/or reiki energy circles?

Cori Dombroski yoga teacher

Bittersweet September

Like a great many good things in this cruel and mysterious world, my summer of complete and total freedom must now come to an end. The past week back at home has shown me that, as eye-opening and horizon-expanding as jumping around can be, life can sometimes be just as rewarding when you stay in one place, especially if that place happens to be Austin, Texas.

Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton Pool in Austin, Texas
Bobal @ Empire Control Room

Bobal @ Empire Control Room

It's also taught me that real barbecue is worth waiting for and that unemployment is not without its drawbacks, since it is possible to max out your ClassPass 3 class allowance at 5 different studios. Time to get back to the working world.

I am taking a long, glorious moment of disbelief tonight to let my heart expand with gratitude for these past two or three irreplaceable months. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Grassy shoes at Deep Eddy Pool

Grassy shoes at Deep Eddy Pool

Happily Home

I've been back in my Austin home for a whole week and it's easy to see why I missed it. Before I pack up and leave again, it's been nice to take the time to appreciate some stillness.

Right now, home means...

This place:

This gardenin' gal:

This musical man:

Concrete Robot at Independence Brewery in Austin, Texas

These life-changing tools:

This ol' thang:

And a whole heck of a lotta these:

Tacos Veracruz Austin Texas

We leave tomorrow morning for Colorado, and I can't write you a post about packing since I've barely done that yet! At least my backpack didn't have time to gather any dust. See you soon!