Three years ago, I left behind everything I knew--my family, my friends, and the small town of Bigfork, MT. I moved for two reasons: a boy and school...mostly for the boy.
The boy is history. The good news? I’m still in school.
My 2,000-mile move to Austin was a whim. The university I was attending asked me to select a major. As a junior, I was still in the “University Studies” program. I ended up selecting a course of study that the university did not offer: Fashion & Retail Management.
The original plan was to move to Seattle. But after learning The Art Institutes was opening a branch in Austin, where I had lived as a child, my plans changed.
A friend from high-school, my future ex-boyfriend, was living in Austin at the time. After a reassuring phone call and securing a place to stay, I quit my job in Glacier National Park. I immediately packed up my Chevy Aveo with all of my belongings.
Three days later, I found myself at the 21st Street Co-Op in Austin, with only a trunk full of clothes and a coffee table I had constructed when I was thirteen.
Now, I’ve moved around a few times, but never had I experienced something like “the coop.” The 21st Street Co-Op is a (clothing-optional) student housing cooperative in the West Campus area, several blocks west from The Drag. Constantly referred to as a treehouse, it reminded me much of a maze. I spent the carefree summer earning my keep at the co-op by cleaning Suite 4B, the smoking suite.
This could be the part in the story where I go all Felicity and chop off my curly locks, circa the late 1990s television show, but that’s not my style.
Instead, I immersed myself into all that is Austin. I went to local events, shopped at second-hand boutiques and farmers markets, and began writing a blog about Austin fashion. I became a full-fledge vegetarian, met Austinites and other gypsies, and adopted a dog I named Biscuit. I have traveled from eastern Canada to southern California, made The President’s List at school, and worked two jobs. I danced in the rain at Austin City Limits Festival, volunteered during South By Southwest, and returned to the 21st Street Co-Op on Sundays to cook for Food Not Bombs. I’ve moved three times, which is also the exact number of times I’ve fallen in and out of love with the same person.
In the past three years, it’s easy to say I've changed from the 19-year-old that showed up with all of her belongings in the back of her car.
I’ve gone back to Montana twice. But it’s no longer “home”.
There’s truth in the old adage “home is where the heart is.”
As of now, mine is, literally, deep in the heart of Texas.