"On the road of life, it's not where you go, but who's by your side that makes the difference."
This was the quotation on the inside of the card I gave my husband for our anniversary last weekend. In our years together, we have traveled (and lived) all over the country by car and, thus, this quote seemed fitting as an expression of my feelings about him and our relationship. Well, we have come to yet another interesting turn in the road of life. We have decided to pick up our Austin roots and move back to the Appalachian mountains from whence we came. Yes, we are moving to Pennsylvania!
This has long been a goal of ours, as we have been living away from home for a decade. But, like the twists and turns of the road, one can never quite predict how or when one's goals may come to fruition. We made our decision rather abruptly, two days ago, about a month before our apartment lease will expire. Yet, it seems this is how things must happen sometimes: in the blink of an eye, as if life is suddenly going 90 miles and hour. Despite the speed at which we feel these things often come to pass, it is with peace of mind and joyful hearts that we make our decision. This is, after all, how the tires feel as they hug the curves in the road, you gripping the steering wheel: unfathomably fast, but true in purpose.
We have driven the route from Austin, Texas to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and back 19 times (one way). The twists and turns of the route have become ever-familiar over the past four years of driving home twice a year. We have our favorite pit stops and landmarks, stopping always at the same Cracker Barrels for breakfast (with winter stops being particularly fun since they often have a fire in the fireplace), always ordering the same thing off the menu (the Old Timer's Breakfast with hot coffee and tea), and remarking on how the black to white employee ratios change as we move from South to North and vice versa. Our 20th trip North in July will be our last on this route, at least in this era of our lives. Surely we will return to Austin in some fashion, but the chances of us making the trip under these circumstances are slim. And so we end another chapter of our lives and start a new one. The feeling is much akin to passing over state lines on a long road trip home; leaving the past behind and driving headlong into the future.
We will greatly miss, but always appreciate, our friends here in Austin, all the wonderful people we've met, and the fun things that we have done. Living for three years in the same city as my younger sister, for example, has been a dream come true for me, one that I have tried not to take for granted. I know I can leave this place knowing that I've made the best of the city and the people we know here. I have made many an effort to "keep Austin weird", swam in Barton Springs Pool, hiked on the Barton Creek Greenbelt more times than I can count, frequented the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, eaten a plethora of breakfast tacos, and two-stepped many a night at the Broken Spoke (Chaparral rocks!).
I have spent most of my time here loving this city. I remember our first night in Austin, falling asleep with a big ol' grin on my face! But my heart always seemed to be calling me home. Having a husband who grew up in my hometown has made it even harder to be away, since we both know many of the same people and pine for the same place on this earth. Perhaps moving home will be just another pit stop in the long journey of life, or maybe we will find it to be a perfect home base from which to go out and have many new adventures. Regardless, our heart strings have been pulled for many years by hundreds of goodbyes to family and friends, watching the mountains of our home fade in the distance as we drive away yet again. We will drive the road to Mercersburg this time knowing that a few goodbyes in Austin will yield a hundred hellos at home. I'm ready for this, as bittersweet as it will be.