A couple times a year, usually in early spring and early fall, I begin sensing this insatiable itch. A slow-rolling anxiety for a shift. It sneaks in subtly, and my constant breakneck pace overpowers it just enough that I blindly dismiss it as a need for something else: another project or maybe a haircut or to delve into a plan to get distracted. But when I strip away the mental nonsense, take a breather and consciously reflect for a sec--it dawns on me.
Of course: time to go home.
Life in my hometown is so reliable, so constant. My family still being there is the obvious, foremost reason for my venturing back, but the routine of Waco is as consistent as it is sleepy. Y'all know how much I love the life I've built in Nashville, but the sweet predictability of life in central Texas gives me the recharge I crave every few months.
My most recent trip back (with the exception of trekking to ACL) was by most counts unremarkable... a blur of backroads and breakfast tacos, big city skylines and having a front row seat to all the stars in the sky. But this is what I love and what I crave. It's what rejuvenates me: that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
// she's a helluva lot calmer than I am, I promise. //
Home is the same series of errands and meals--down to sitting in the same places, at the same tables, in the same restaurants. At HEB, I scoop up Shiner to share with my Pops, and my favorite Texas Pecan coffee to bring back to Nashville. At Spice, it's Circle E candles and tops and dresses I can't find here. I always read the Wacoan and Texas Monthly cover-to-cover before nodding off in my childhood bedroom (to be awoken right at sunrise by the aggressive light pouring through the east-facing window... something I hated in high school, yet have come to love as an adult). I visit mom at the cemetery, usually with flowers in one hand and a half-and-half tea from Bush's in the other.
// beloved breakfast traditions and all that. //
As a kid in Texas, you learn the backroads as soon as you slide behind the driver's wheel (funnily enough--my dad was asking me for names of roads when I was home... and I reminded him that I've been gone for over four years). A day into my trip, I excitedly raced to Houston to stay with my childhood best friend, a three-plus-hour drive from my parents', connected by two-lane highways and farm-to-market roads that are as memorable to me as if I still drove them as frequently as I did as a college girl. 77 to 7, 6 to 290, 45 to 3--GPS utterly unnecessary. With my pup assuming her position in my lap, spotify blaring, and the familiar stream of main street strips zooming past us, the roadtrip melted away and in no time, we were sipping on Shiner, laughing on the patio with my best friend since I was 11 (and her hysterical husband, who just as effortlessly as she did in fifth grade, has become family to me).
// snuggled up in our fantastic houston guest room digs after a long trip. //
We watched football and feasted on steaks, sizzling from the grill. We swapped stories on high school friends and commiserated about politics. Lauren and I talk nearly everyday, but there's just no substitute for face time with your best friend--the one who knows all your secrets and loves you anyway. Twenty years of inside jokes and encouragement, bitter loss and heartache, the knowing side glances and uncontrollable laughs. I've never called Houston "home" but make no mistake--home is absolutely defined by the people in your life. A little piece of my heart absolutely lives in Houston.
// forever one of my favorite skylines. //
I spent Sunday at ACL (much more on that later), and returned back to Waco, groggy but so very content. The next few days held minimal plans, which allowed me more time to just immerse myself in the small-town life I left. Isn't it funny--those things that make us almost desperate for a change of pace, are the exact things you dream of and cling to when you get to go back?
// aaaand onto my favorite, favorite city. //
// so very in my element. felt like Christmas morning. //
// HAIM killed it. //
Home is roads peppered with monikers like "Bullhide Creek" and "Pecan Ridge" and "Longhorn Trail." It's I35 being perpetually under construction, and Blue Bell in every fathomable flavor, and the fact that it takes 15 minutes to get anywhere you need to go. It's running into your high school teachers and friends' parents at the grocery store, knowing which snakes will hurt you, and the flood of nostalgia at seeing the stadium lights flicker on, as the sun sinks behind the visitor's side of the field.
It's the farmer's cows grazing in the pasture next door, gargantuan pick-up trucks, and huevos rancheros with my dad after we walk his Airedale, Ben on the Cotton Belt Trail at the crack of dawn. It's a smattering of leopard paws--my high school mascot--painted on the residential roads that serve as the perimeter to the schools. My non-Texan friends get a kick out of my pride, but there's really no explaining it. I liken it to a time warp--little has changed in my teensy hometown of one stoplight since well before I left it in my own rearview.
It was a pretty fantastic trip for me. I ate too much whataburger, lit up at the sight of Baylor's campus (repeatedly), and sat with my dad at the vet with Ben (to receive his next anti-venom shot after an encounter with a rattlesnake last month, no less). I spent Monday night laughing with my dear friends from my Baylor career days, cooked dinner for my parents, and successfully got my dad into Narcos.
// scarf exchanging fiesta with my girls. on your standard 80-degree evening.//
After a tumultuous return trip (diverted flight back to Love Field after a "hydraulic emergency" and the rockiest plane landing I've ever experienced), I hit the pillow for a three-hour nap, heart so overwhelmingly full.
// baby love tempering my flight anxiety. //
It was just enough to tide me over until Christmas... when I'll be reaching over my stepmom for spices, cooking at her side, giggle as I chase my niece and nephews through heaping piles of crumbled wrapping paper, eat entirely too much Mexican food, and again be reminded of every reason--big and small--that home is undoubtedly more than just where you are.