This wasn't the plan. It was almost a year ago to the day that I plopped cowboy boots down in front of Brooke and pitched the idea of moving to Austin. Her immediate response, you might recall, was: "Where are the boxes?" She was ready to go. So was I. We really liked what we knew about Austin, and we embraced the idea of personal and professional adventure. I'd been suited for everywhere I'd ever lived, so I was game. Brooke would be closer to her family in Oklahoma, so she was in.
What we found over the next several months was a mixed bag. We adapted seamlessly in some areas, we really struggled in others. The biggest win was finding, rather quickly, a church home. Eric Bryant and the people at Gateway South are just unbelievable. I've never been around a pastor who so tirelessly works to make himself available to the congregation. He and his wife, Deb, are great examples, mentors - and just great people. I'll always appreciate them. I don't know how he does it, but we are so blessed to have found him and the church. It's an area where we really had a difficult time in Charlotte, finding a church home.
So the irony, I guess, is that we couldn't figure out a home home. We thought about it. We plotted. We would casually check the Zillow app. We'd drive around, almost always separately, and explore neighborhoods. I think, deep down, we each wanted to find the perfect area and then surprise the other. We were seeking the neighborhood that immediately jumped out to us and said, "This is it. You're home." It didn't have to be perfect. It just had to be home.
And that never, ever happened. Not for a lack of effort or thought or prayer, but it never happened. We were priced out of areas we thought were somewhat promising. We rejected the idea of moving to the far-reaching suburbs and facing commutes to work or concerts or, really, just general life downtown. I've heard of people who live in Round Rock -- less than a half-hour from downtown, when traffic is OK -- who never come to Austin; it might as well be Dallas to them, and that's not an exaggeration. And that's not us. For now, in this station of life -- even as we get closer to the exciting reality of starting a family in the next year or two -- we want to be "in-town people." Well, we can't be in-town people in Austin, Texas. We cannot afford to have the sort of house in the sort of area that we'd like. That's unfortunate. It came as a surprise, a disappointing surprise. But that's the reality that we were met with, in the end.