I recently traveled to Texas, not to see Family, although I did, and not to get my hair cut, although I did that too and lament the fact that I live in PA when the best haircut in my life is in Dallas. I traveled to Texas for one reason and one reason only; I went to see my friends.
This may not sound novel to you, but after living away from my home state for over 4 years, it’s rare that I get to devote an entire trip to one thing or person. Usually I’m balancing being with family and friends and whatever it is I came down for (weddings, holidays, parties, etc…) but this time I spent 5 glorious days just being with my people.
In high school, Katy, Amy and I were pretty inseparable. We came as a pack; a three for one deal. We grew up in Abilene, TX where we went to school together for 11 years or so. Abilene is not unlike other west Texas towns. It’s not too big, not too small, and everyone knows everyone. It’s the type of place filled with kind people who support you, say hi to you in the grocery store, and genuinely want to know about your life. When my parents moved to the Dallas area in my sophomore year of college, I knew that sense of community would be missed.
Since then I haven’t really had a reason to go to Abilene. When Amy, Katy and I were planning this trip, we were thinking of a central place in the giant state of Texas where we could meet, a place that pregnant Amy wouldn’t have to drive far, a place where Katy and I could get to without jeopardizing my flight arrangements. Abilene, the place that raised us, seemed like the spot. I was going back home to have a high-school style weekend with my two favorite people. It was going to be good.
Friday, Katy and I piled in the car and made the drive from Dallas to Abilene that I had made so many times before. The Texas landscape, with it’s big skies, craggy trees, and small towns, welcomed me as I ventured closer and closer to home.
We pulled in to town and the big red FORD sign welcomed me. It’s funny the things we forget, like that big red sign, yet when they resurface it’s a reminder how symbolic and ingrained they once were. That big red sign meant I was almost home. Home from college, home from a shopping trip, home from a Friday night football game. I had forgotten all about it, yet when I saw it, I knew I was home.
We drove into town and explored some of the old neighborhood. Driving through the horseshoe shaped street that I grew up on was like visiting your old elementary school, except that they’ve painted your old cubby hole this weird orange color and everything looks much more green that you remembered.
Saturday morning was long and luxurious and full of cinnamon rolls, as per usual. We only got out of our sweats to change into our bathing suits. A pool day, something I craved, considering it rarely got warm enough to use ours here in PA, was on the agenda and not much else. We lathered up in sunscreen, a sure sign that we aren’t 17 anymore nor can we use baby oil as a viable means to sun protection.
Katy’s parents recently bought a house on the lake, so around happy hour time (I love vacations that are measured in happy hour times) they came by with food, wine, and a huge smoker for steaks.
We took a cruise around the lake, enjoying the warm weather, breeze, and West Texas sunset. It was such a perfect day.
I loved every second of that weekend. I loved that almost all of our conversations started with “Remember that one time…” I loved that I didn’t worry about a schedule once. I loved that when driving to Amy’s house we pulled over because we saw an old friend on the street. I loved that when we went to dinner Friday night, three people stopped us on our way to our table to catch up. Big cities are great, and I’m so thankful for my life right now, but this sense of community is something unique to Abilene, and probably other small towns, that is truly special.