HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas.

On Austin. And hope. (HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas.)

A few weeks ago, I had a day.

A day where I was both upset over something and excited about something and my emotions were all over the place. And all I kept thinking, all that day, was, “I need change.” “I need to make my world what I want it to be.” “I need to reclaim my life.

So, that day, I signed up for guitar lessons and bought a Groupon for salsa lessons and looked up tattoo artists and booked a flight.

Because, sometimes, I go overboard.

But anyways.

Me at the Greetings from Austin Mural in Austin, Texas.

I booked a flight to Austin, Texas, that day because it’s been on my list of “places in the US I can’t believe I haven’t been yet” and on my “forty by forty” list and on my life list. And because my friend Nick kept telling me I should come visit (no, actually, that I should move there). And because Austin has always held the reputation of being a pretty awesome city.

So, I spent four days in Austin. During which time Nick and everyone else I knew and everyone else I met, spent every moment trying to convince me that I should move to Austin, skip my next flight to Seattle, never leave. During which time I spent thinking that maybe I should move to Austin, skip my next flight to Seattle, never leave.

After all, Austin doesn’t have a winter.

After all, Austin has some pretty nice nature.

After all, Austin has some pretty amazing bars and restaurants.

After all, Austin has some pretty cool street art.

After all, Austin is the place many of my friends call home.

After all, Austin lived up to it’s reputation of being a pretty awesome city.

And my vacation there was pretty awesome too. Even if all I did was eat and drink and eat and drink and eat and drink. But that was exactly what I needed. A vacation. Time off. Time.

We spent four days around the city.

We spent four days just hanging out.

We spent four days barely being at home.

We spent four days being social.

We spent four days eating and drinking.

I spent four days without cracking open my laptop once.

Those four days in Austin gave me hope. Hope that I can actually enjoy small chunks of travel again. Hope that I can spend days away from work (professional or personal) without feeling guilt. Hope that I can just be happy because, for four days, I was nothing but happy. Hope that I’m actually doing what I’m saying. Hope that I’m moving forward.

There’s hope for me yet.

The HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas is a community paint park built on a failed condo development. Street artists can sign up to paint positive/inspirational/educational works on one of the many layers of wall. Visitors can climb around and see the work up close and talk to the artists if they are working and take a million photos. I took a million photos…

HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas:

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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