It's a rainy Texas day, which brings with it exactly the kind of magic you'd think when water hits the desert. Rather than feeling gloomy or grouchy the way it did in Connecticut, it feels nourishing and awakening. The wildflowers that blanket the sides of the roads will burst open tomorrow thanks to all this water, and there's a certain appreciation for it all here. A shift. A difference I have come to love.
And while I'm sitting on my couch in a blanket eating chocolate leftover from Lily's Easter basket, I am happy to be here.
My adjustment to Texas has been tough. Like I never use the word hate, but I can honestly say I hated it here for a long time. And while I'd love to blame it on things outside of myself (the heat, the taxidermy shop across the street, the scorpions in our shoes) the truth is, I hated Texas because I felt stuck. This is a giant state with borders that feel years away. Once we sold the Airstream, and said goodbye to our full-time life on the run, I think my heart felt completely caged-in. I kept having these nightmares that I'd run for miles and miles until I was completely out of breath, and when I'd look around I'd only have gone a few feet.
I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't know if it even needed to be fixed. I just knew that a very beautiful and wild part of myself felt like it had died and I wasn't ready to grieve so I just did the best I could.
Little by little, I began to appreciate the gifts that being a normal, civilized family can bring. Braedon has absolutely thrived in his school, earning the Leadership Award and making the best friends he's ever had in his life. He's somehow navigated early adolescence without one single door slammed in my face or one angsty meltdown. I didn't even know, until witnessing his journey, that it was possible for middle school to be some of the best years of your life. Lily has a confidence that can intimidate old weathered cattle ranchers, and her heart has seemed to grow to fit the expansiveness of the Texas sky. She wears cowgirl boots to the grocery store and sings songs about bluebonnets. In her school photos she is sitting on a bale of hay. Our kids play sports and take dance classes and have regular get togethers with their beloved pals. We have grown to know the first names of our neighborhood bank teller, gluten-free baker, handyman and gas station clerk. When we drop things off at the post office, they ask Braedon how his soccer games are, and notice when he's grown another inch. The familiarity of having friendly faces is something I so longed for on the road, and it warms my bones every time the lady who lives across from us hollers to Lily that she looks pretty in her new dress today, or asks with her deep Southern drawl, "Isn't the sunshine just wonderful this afternoon?" Thomas' computer science job feels like we've won the lottery, and I never even knew how much I loved a predictable and hearty paycheck until it landed in our bank account the second week in Austin. If I could have hugged that automatic deposit, I swear I would have.
Our routines are set. We make scrambled eggs each morning and tie shoes and brush teeth. We walk out the door at exactly 7:05 to beat the traffic at the second stop light. I get dressed and brush my hair and try to fit in as best I can. Dinner is on the table by 6:15 each night. There is comfort in all of this, I won't deny that.
My heart has softened to this place and this domestic way of life. And yet...
I cannot pretend that I don't feel most at home in the middle of a forest with my hair messy and my feet muddy. Sure I can fold laundry and bake cupcakes for the PTA like the best of 'em, but only if I know there's an adventure somewhere calling my name. I crave wild rivers up to my collarbone and naked sunrise swims all alone and skin that smells like campfire ash. I long for no cellphone service and sleeping under the stars bundled closely with the ones I love the most. Not seeing anyone else for days and days, except for deer and wild pigs. I need to know that somewhere, in the middle of all of the day-to-day rhythm, there's a space to escape.
I didn't have that when we first got here. But now, I do.
Last week we picked out what is, perhaps, the ugliest camper in the world and yesterday we paid for it. Weekends and summer breaks will be spent being set free.
My friend texted me, "OMG you must be SO excited!" but honestly, I feel the opposite of excited. I feel relief. I feel an exhale. I feel the way the dry and cracked ground outside my window must feel today with all the cool rainwater bringing it back to life, turning dust into the loveliest mud.
And I share all of this to say, we don't have to choose one way or the other. I used to think I did, but it's simply not true. And while I certainly don't have it all figured out, I am so grateful to be in this new space of divine duality, and cannot wait to see what unfolds next.