As some of you might already know, we left Austin, Texas at the beginning of May and we are now located in Pinellas County, Florida. More travels for our constantly moving family. This time I am hoping our stay is going to be a little more permanent. A few years back, when we returned from our 14-month stint in Costa Rica, we were pretty focused on moving to Florida. Then an opportunity presented itself and we made a change of plans and a little leap of faith. We found ourselves in Austin, Texas, wondering if it was going to finally be the place where we ended up feeling like we could stay for a good long time, or maybe at least a place that we’d be comfortable calling a home-base for when we felt the urge to travel again. Austin was cool, and we made a lot of wonderful friends, but Florida kept calling us. So that’s where we are now, and I am thinking, more firmly than ever before, that this is going to be our home. Here’s hopin’!
Now about Texas…
I want to emphasize that I don’t think I ever really figured out what the heck Texas is all about. (All those little Texas-shaped crackers at the supermarket and mispronounced Spanish street names continue to be an enigma to me.) People from Texas were always telling us that Texas begins outside the Austin city limits. Maybe that’s true. Every so often, we would meet someone that seemed like a “real Texan”. I could sort of feel the Texas vibes rolling right off those people. Like the man that said, “Howdy!” to me at the Blue Hole. That was pretty awesome, and the only time in my life that I’ve been greeted that way.
Or maybe I didn’t quite get Texas because we weren’t there long enough. We were there for about 16 months, which is not nearly enough time to truly understand a place. Though it seems that is about the amount of time our family needs in order to tell if a place is meant for us to stay in. Or maybe it’s the length of time until Arp and I have a resurgence of “wandering fever”.
Either way, Austin wasn’t working for us.
For one thing, we didn’t much love the climate in Austin. The “summer” (which was really spring, summer, and fall) was hot as hell. HELL. We had several months straight with high temperatures over 100 degrees. It didn’t cool down at night either. So what we basically did was hide inside our air conditioned houses for 3-4 months straight. That was certainly no improvement from New York, where you huddle inside for 4 months in the winter. When we tried to go to public pools to cool off, the water temperature seemed about the same as in a warm bath. It was not the least bit refreshing. Arp and I both wanted to live in a climate that was closer to year-round outside living. Austin didn’t measure up.
I also wasn’t entirely fond of the look of the natural areas of Austin, either. Coming from New York, I’ve always absolutely loved hiking in the woods. The hiking opportunities in Austin left a lot to be desired. Some of them involved hiking in desert-like locations. To me, Deserts seem like interesting places to visit, but not great places to live long-term. The look of the Austin area just didn’t inspire me. I kept feeling an intense longing for either a tall northeastern forest, or a tropical ocean. Texas had neither of those. The longer we stayed there, the more my longing grew. I just couldn’t ignore the inner voice inside me that was screaming for the kind of nature that I love.
Austin was also pretty far from my New York family. Not an easy drive to take with 4 kids and a dog, and the plane tickets are pretty expensive. The commute from Florida is just quicker and cheaper. I don’t want to feel like I’m a world away from my family.
I am sure glad to have experienced Austin, though. We met some wonderful friends through the unschooling group there. That was probably the best part of our experience there. If there are any unschoolers out there wondering where to go next, and who wouldn’t be turned off by the climate, I heartily recommend Austin. So much to do, and so many wonderful unschoolers make for a great place to live for some.
Frankly, I’m hoping we’re done with the wandering fever for quite some time. I am good and sick of moving and all the stress that comes with it. It sure is exciting to see new and different places, but moving is expensive, filled with stress, and exhausting with a family of 4 children. Is it too much to hope that we might be happy to stay in one place for the next 5-10 years? Or maybe even longer than that? I keep telling myself that this time, even if I hate it here (though that’s not likely), I’m simply not going to move again.
Just in the week that we’ve been here we are already starting to love Florida. Arp and I have talked about how it seems like Florida has the best parts of Costa Rica, and is missing the worst parts. I like the tropical feel, the skin-friendly humidity, and the absolutely beautiful beaches. It may not have the northern forests like New York has, but the beaches more than make up for it and I can visit New York much more easily. And unlike Costa Rica, I hear that the police in Florida actually come when you call them! Plus, the 90 degree highs feel fine compared to what Texas was like, especially when you combine it with the ocean breeze. Here’s hoping that we are here to stay.