I spent Labor Day weekend, and a few days before, in Texas. After other travel plans failed to evolve, I decided I needed to go somewhere, anywhere, that I needed to not be in town for a weekend I was supposed to be someplace else and after a mostly stagnant and occasionally painful summer, it was time to buy myself some plane tickets and leave.
So I did.
I picked Texas because my grandmother moved to Houston over a year ago from Northern Virginia and I miss her terribly and because my uncle and his family live there and also because Abby, blood of my blood, lives there too. By going to Texas, I could do the family thing and the friend-I-don’t-see-enough thing, get into some lady friend shenanigans and soak up some family time too. It seemed like a perfect blend for feel-betterness.
And it was.
I don’t think I knew how bad I needed to get away until I actually got away.
I flew into Austin, because it was WAY cheaper than flying into Houston and I’d always, always, always wanted to visit Austin. I had an absolutely incredible flight and made a friend (more on that later), and then Abby came up to spend Thursday night with me so I could have a friend to explore (and drink) with and that’s what we did. We hit happy hours, discovered $2.50 whiskey drinks, $5 nachos and $3 margaritas, checked out the bats (BATS, YOU GUYS!) before finding our way to a speakeasy hidden behind a sliding bookcase.
I got up early the next morning, tried to drink enough water to nullify my margarita and beer-induced mini-hangover and then I set out for a little run, because that’s apparently the sort of person I am now, the sort of person who never, ever travels without a pair of running shoes, who plans vacations around running endeavors and regrets ever visiting a city without checking it out with a pair of running shoes tied to my feet.
Post-run, Abby and I set off in search of breakfast. I kept hearing about this whole breakfast taco thing that happens in Texas, which I was immediately fascinated by the minute I heard that such an incredible thing exists because, in case I haven’t been clear, I really, really like things like tacos and nachos and I tend to eat both nearly weekly, and I believe, in a very real sort of way, that tacos and nachos have magical healing properties and they, along with mac and cheese, of course, are my comfort foods in a very real and often-craved sort of way.
So we went to Jo’s and I had a delicious chai latte with almond milk and they even spelled my name right, which, you know, NEVER HAPPENS, and so then, in that moment, I fell in love with Austin. And then there were breakfast tacos, or rather, BREAKFAST TACOS, which are basically just breakfast sandwiches, with eggs and bacon or maybe chorizo or potatoes, wrapped in a tortilla. IT’S MAGIC, I TELL YOU. MAGIC.
And then we wandered. We visited the capitol building, cooed at dogs, cursed the heat, hit up a few thrift stores, acquired some goods and then headed to Houston.
Turns out, I needed a drive, too. There’s something about the open road, especially in places I’ve never been before where the speed limits are higher than any I’ll find in Virginia, something magical and relaxing and reflective and, in all my treks back and forth from Atlanta to where Andrew is in Alabama, I’ve learned that I really like driving, that long drives are the perfect time to sort through things that don’t make sense at any other time or that I can’t focus on during my normally busy days. So the drive was nice, as I figured it would be.
I got into Houston Friday night, stopped for a quick visit with my grandmother before heading out to eat some of the most ridiculous nachos I’ve ever encountered.
Five meats, y’all. FIVE. MEATS. And a center filled with queso. AND a whole sauce bar sort of thing with ranches and salsas and jalapenos. FOR SERIOUS.
Saturday and Sunday were primarily spent IN the pool at my aunt & uncle’s home.
My aunt is a top-notch hostess, and she kept Abby and I satiated with margaritas and sangria by the pool, along with an array of snacks, including vegetables that tasted fresher than rain forest air after the Great Nacho Gorging of 2013.
My aunt & uncle’s backyard is incredible, with a pool and a hot tub, a basket of beach towels close at hand and little tiny lizards skittering nearby, and it had been far too long since I’d allowed myself to do nothing and, aside from a run on Sunday morning, I spent my final full days in Texas doing little more than floating in the pool, talking with my family and Abby and downing margaritas. We even managed to convince my grandmother to don a bathing suit and get in the pool for the first time in a long, long time and when I looked around on Sunday I realized how happy the weekend had been, how great I felt, how happy I was knowing that there are people who love me and are there for me, even if they’re not very close.
Monday morning I woke up early, packed up my things, including Armadillo Cat, got kolaches and donuts with Abby and then set off to have lunch with my grandmother before heading back to Austin to catch my flight home.
It was, in the end, exactly what I needed and I returned home late Monday night feeling better, better than I’d felt in a while, better than when I’d left and just simply better. The vacation high has carried me through the past week and my time in Texas allowed me to readjust my frame of reference. I didn’t know I needed to leave until I was gone and realized how good I felt. I love my house and my critters and the wild things that my home seems to attract, but I don’t take a lot of time for myself when I’m home, not really, so leaving and doing just that proved to be exactly the sort of catharsis I needed.
So thanks, Texas. I promise I’ll be back.