"Home isn't a place, it's a feeling"

South Dakota will always be my home. The house I grew up in, where my parents still live, will always be what I refer to when I say "I'm going home". While I'm not someone who moved around a lot as a child, or an adult for that matter, I have lived in four different cities and several different apartments and a had a few different roommates. The first time I moved out it was into the dorms at college. Then I moved home for summer. When the new semester started, I moved into an apartment with my sister's best friend. When she moved out to live with her boyfriend at the time, one of my friends moved in. Then I moved home (my parent's house) before moving to Aberdeen. I had a cute little apartment to myself up there. When the rent got too high a year later, I moved down the street into an apartment my friend was previously renting. A couple of years later Matthew moved in. We moved to Sioux Falls in 2014. In 2015 I moved to Austin. The one thing that all of the places I have lived before coming to Texas, is that none of them felt like home. They were all home in the sense that I paid to live there, and had a permanent address at all of them. When I lived in all of those different towns in all of those different apartments with different people, I didn't feel like I was at home. I didn't feel like I was where I was supposed to be. When I would leave town for vacation or a holiday or whatever the occasion was, I never wanted to return to where I came from. I would dread going back to where I lived. I used to say that someone would have to take me back kicking and screaming.

I didn't know that I wasn't home until we moved to Austin. I haven't ever felt like I was home, and what an amazing feeling it is now that I know what I missing out on. You could say we moved here on a whim, most didn't know we were planning on it until it was official. We had talked about someday, maybe, moving but of course nobody took us seriously. I didn't take us seriously. When it was time to pack my car and go I had no idea what was in store or when I would see my husband again. I knew I had a lot to do on my own to start this new adventure, but it didn't really hit me until a few days in, probably after my mom had gotten on her plane back to SD. I was lucky enough to have my cousins accept me into their home as their "roommate" for a month and help me get things figured out. They took me apartment hunting and guided me on what to look for and areas of town to stay away from. We looked at three or four apartment complexes and I knew right away which one felt right. They agreed. So, Landmark at Barton Creek is where I chose to call home. When you go apartment hunting down here there are so many more amenities to take in. I've always lived in small buildings with nothing exciting to offer except that one time we got a garage. This one has it all. Pool, dog park, sand volleyball, Taco Deli, the Greenbelt, trees, large deck. I didn't even know most of those things existed in my new world until a few days after I moved in and really got to explore. While it's an older building and nothing fancy on the inside by any means and is half the size of our previous place, we have made it ours. We spend more time at "home" because we are just that comfortable doing things near our abode; whether that is hours lounging at the pool, hiking the Greenbelt trains (which we do NOT do enough!), walking down the hill for breakfast tacos, or just sitting on our deck watching the rain. We also have a lot of fun exploring and finding new places. We used to spend our weekends and evenings holed up inside because we had no desire to leave, there was no place that exciting to check out and explore, we had nobody to meet up with for happy hour, and half of the time the weather sucked!

The first time I realized that I was missing out on the feeling of being home was after only living in Austin for a short 3 months. We left for Illinois the day before our flight out to Germany. We landed in Springfield late at night, and I said to Matthew "I want to go home". I think it took him by surprise because it was not often at all that I said that and didn't mean my mom's house. I felt outside of my comfort zone, which isn't unusual for me, but after just beginning my new life this was shocking to me. I was so confused! Other signs started to show up as well. When strangers would ask how I was liking Austin so far I would beam and say "I LOVE IT HERE!!" Everyone here is SO friendly. People were nice in South Dakota, but I have never met so many genuinely friendly people until moving here. Strangers will talk to you, ask you how you are and listen to you long enough to hear your answer. You don't leave the grocery store without holding up the line because the cashier is having a conversation with you. I get called ma'am by children I work with, AND their parents! (Clearly this is a southern respect thing that likely didn't get past Oklahoma) When my family started to ask me if I was ready to move home back my immediate answer is "HELL NO! I LOVE IT HERE!". I then continue to tell them everything I love about this beautiful city, knowing they don't truly understand the feeling. I just wait for people to ask me how Austin is, feeling like they are secretly hoping I hate it and that everything sucks. A select few people in my life don't believe that Austin has been a good move for me, to which I say they are blind and it's their choice not to believe me or notice.

What I'm trying to say is that this beautiful city has welcomed me with open arms and done things for me that I never imagined it would. Who knew it was possible to miss out on feeling at home for so many years?! Not me. I am so glad I am home.

Mama always told me it's a dangerous thing when a man looks for peace outside of his home.. And she was right. I love my family, despite the hard times.:


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