A lot of people have asked me -- and probably more have wondered, but refrained from asking -- why I'm spending the summer in Austin. Why am I leaving? What will I do? Why Austin?
Why am I leaving? Good question. For one, I just know I wasn't ready to go back to the same life I had before without Brian by my side. I think losing Brian the way I did was such a shock to the system, that I'm not ready to go back to life the way it was and pretend that it's normal and good without him. I don't want to be living in the same house, working at the same job, eating the same foods, hanging out with the same friends, doing the same things, without my partner in crime. That was the life we created together, and it was meant to be shared by us together. I don't want this to be interpreted as me saying I didn't like our life -- I loved it! I always told Brian how happy I was, how blessed we were, and I felt 2009 was our best year yet. I also don't want anyone to think I'm going to cut ties with that life -- no, that isn't my plan, either. I just needed more time before I could go back to it. I think I just needed a little more time to process things. I thought getting away from everything would help that.
What will I do? The short answer is, anything that I think will help me in my path. I want to take this time to grieve, process my emotions, find myself, and (I hope) grow from this. What will I do to achieve such lofty goals? Well, for one, it is a journey, not a destination. I just want to make progress; I don't think I'll leave Austin in August as a "healed" person who is "over" her loss! That being said, I do think that discovering a place is symbolic for discovering one's self. Similarly, taking care of one's body also nurtures the soul. So I plan to explore Austin -- museums, parks, nature, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. -- in an active way. I hope to run, bike, kayak, go rowing, go hiking, etc. I think these things will help keep me focused, positive, and healthy while I work on my emotional journey. I plan to mix those active and fun activities with my grief work. This blog will help me process my feelings and emotions, so it is part of the grief work. I also have a private journal to help with the grieving process. In addition, I have several grieving and self-help books that I plan to get through this summer. Finally, I might join a grief support group. I have gathered a little bit of information on some options and will see if any are helpful. I had been seeing a grief counselor in Iowa and found that helpful.
Why Austin? Well, Austin is a great city! There are plenty of things to do and explore here, which is what I need. I lived in Austin for a while as a child and still have fond memories of things we did as a family. Brian's brother lived here after college and we visited frequently, enough to kind of know the city and what it offers -- definitely enough to love the place! In addition, I have many friends and Boka family members in Austin and nearby cities (Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio). This will allow me to still have a social life and to have face-to-face interaction with people, which was important. I wanted to get away, not become a total recluse! Finally, I just felt called here. When I spent a week here in March, as soon as I arrived, I thought my time would be too short. The day I got back to Iowa, I was online looking for a place to sublease. I'm glad I listened to what my gut was telling me. A couple weeks after I finalized my plans to spend the summer here, my good friend Erin got a job in Austin, so I will even have an Iowa friend joining me here in a couple weeks. Me being here when she and her fiance Chad (who is also a friend of mine) move will be great -- I can introduce them to the great people I know here, and show them the best places to eat, drink, shop, bike, and run.
This is the first time in my life I've ever done something without a "plan." I've spent my whole life (since deciding I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 12) working toward ascertainable goals, so this will be an entirely new thing for me. I've always done that which fits into the plan and advances me toward the goal line. Now it is time for me to take some time, listen to what life is trying to tell me, and to let the wind carry me for awhile. The wind brought me to Austin, and I believe it will be a good thing.