This past year in Corpus Christi and this trip as a sort of capstone has been such an education in my relationship with where I live. I've thought of my communities as a static thing, with a character independent from me.
I'm grateful to have moved so much, growing up and in the Navy, but now, processing what I've been seeing my whole life, I'm realizing how much work goes into making a town what it is, how if feels, how well it works. How much my neighbors have contributed to what I've always taken for granted. What I call a viable downtown or a walkable community is so much hard work by real people I don't know. I've been arrogantly dismissive of towns in which I've lived, I'm ashamed to say, as if they were built for my own approval, like some sort of plug and play module, a decision matrix, and not generations of labor and love and mistakes and tragedy.
I don't want to leave the friends I've made in Corpus Christi. Just the other day a good friend told me that moving away from friends ages you prematurely and I feel it now. I know I don't have to, that they're just four hours south of Austin and we will visit, but, I don't want to replace them. I don't want to meet a new surfer dude or wacky Frenchman or gourmet eurotrash. I don't want to make new friends at the bike shop. For the first time ever, I'm regretting leaving a town and it's because for the first time ever, I have a connection to a place through the folks that live there. For the first time ever, I'm not a tourist; I've contributed a little something, something to offer young Zak for approval.