Monday, January 31, 2011

Year One

On January 31, 2010, I packed every thing I owned into a u-haul and moved to Austin, Texas. I had lived in Whitehouse and/or Tyler in East Texas my entire life, and besides a few stints of living with some friends in apartments in Tyler here and there, had never lived completely on my own before, either. Needless to say, it was understood that moving from the shiny buckle of the bible belt to the liberal island floating in the sea of Texas conservatives that is Austin was going to be a bit of a "life-changer." Having been in Austin over a year now, and my one-year of working at Mercedes-Benz of Austin coming up on March 8th, I thought it was time to update the blog again and reflect on the past 13 (my lucky number) months of my life

When I moved down here, I did it almost on a whim. I had gotten a job at a Marketing Agency (that ended up being more or less a pyramid scheme selling Direct TV at Best Buy that I immediately quit 3 days later), and after receiving the job offer in mid January after a trip to Austin for a party following a "graduation trip" skiing in Colorado, I immediately found an apartment in North Austin near where my work would be in the Arboretum. After signing my lease and paying my deposit (and getting a ticket speeding on the way back to Tyler due to excitement), I packed up all my belongings, which sadly could all fit in a relatively normal sized u-haul, and made the move to the Live-Music Capital of the World.

Now to say this was completely on a whim is not entirely accurate. When I was 14 years old, I came to Austin for the first time with my dad over Thanksgiving break and got to watch the Longhorns take it to the Aggies at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, and I was forever changed. A few months later in March, I came back with my dad and sister for my dad's college roommate's dad's 80th birthday party (now that's a mouthful). That party took place at the Omni on 8th Street and just so happened to fall on the same week as the infamous South by Southwest music festival here in Austin. Even back then, my sister was always in the know and infinitely cooler than me, and she managed to find a few shows we could go to while we were in town. So as a freshman in high school with curly hair and a mouth full of braces, I hit SXSW and saw a few shows like Starsailor, and the kicker being Better Than Ezra with Johnny Lang at Stubbs. From that week on, I knew that if I were to stay in Texas past high school or college, that Austin would be the only place I would live. The people, the city, the music, the feeling, everything was different from what I had grown up with in my small little hometown of 4,000+ people in the East Texas pines. Through some circumstances outside of my control, I wasn't able to attend the University of Texas at Austin as was my dream, but I managed to live vicariously though other friends college experiences, and got to travel all over the country with the money I saved from staying close to home for college. But after graduating in December of 2009, it didn't take long for me to make the move out of that sea-of-settling Tyler trap that so many people fall into (no disrespect to all my friends still "on their grind" in Tyler, just wasn't for me).

So here I was, 22 years old and living out my dream, sort of. After quitting the pyramid, I was in a bit of a bind. I already had bills piling up from my new apartment, so I was on the job hunt hardcore. I don't think I've ever sent more emails out, browsed Craigslist and Google more, or had more sleepless nights due strictly to stress in my entire life than I did that month of February. Thanks to some graduation money I had saved up, and the love and generosity of my parents who I am and will forever be in debt to, I managed to survive until I lucked into a position with Mercedes-Benz of Austin through a Craigslist add I hadn't even remembered replying to. A year later, here I am still living paycheck to paycheck, but living a life as good if not better than I had imagined when I pulled out of me and my dad's apartment in Tyler for the last time (with teary eyes, I might add).

Since I've been here, I've been to more concerts than I would have ever dreamed imaginable (some of which can be read about in other blog posts i.e: Nocturnal Fest, ACL, etc.), met some of the most interesting people I will ever know (including a beautiful girl that lets me take her on dates), made some friendships that I think will last a lifetime, and still managed to stay close with the people that have always been in my life (and always will be). and through it all discovered not only a new city and a new life, but a new me. I've always been one to value self-awareness, but I never realized how much more important self-discovery is. Sure I try to pretend like I know exactly who I am or what I want, but the truth is that changes everyday. So I don't think anyone can ever be completely sure of those things. What I've learned is that you just have to roll with the punches, make yourself open to new people and new experiences, and try to do it all with an open mind.

I haven't left Texas since I moved here over a year ago, so I'm commemorating this amazing 1+ year in Austin by booking a trip to Portland, Oregon today in May. I made a promise to myself that Austin would change me for the better, and I can undoubtedly say it has. I've been crossing things off my Bucket List (see blog post) left and right, and this Sunday I will scratch another one off as I run in my first half-marathon in San Marcos. Fittingly enough, I will wrap up that day by heading to one of Austin's most popular locations, Zilker Park, to see a vintage Austin event, a Kite Festival. Followed by a visit from my old roommate, my dad, for his Spring Break. The next few months are lined up to be exactly what I moved down here for, full of amazing concerts and festivals, good times with friends and family, and experiences that I could not have if I were not living here.

So to everyone who has made Austin worth while for me since I've gotten here, I thank you. Without you, all of this would not be possible, and I would not be the person I am right now. I am so thankful to be this blessed and lucky, and I do not take you or my life for-granted. I know that mine is a life a lot of people would love to have, and I try to live daily as though it could all be taken away from me at any moment. Because in my nearly 24 years, I've learned that it really could.

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