It took living in Spain when I was in college to learn an important lesson in geography: Here is no better than there, and there is no better than here.
Growing up in a rural town in Southwest Missouri, I couldn’t wait to get out. When I boarded a plane with everything I needed for a year abroad in a pack on my back, I felt like I was finally on my way to a better place where I’d find culturally advanced people who would stimulate my mind and challenge me to be a better person.
I definitely found that in Alicante, Spain, but I also found frustration in what seemed like an archaic society where everyone was always late and few of my peers believed that if they worked hard enough, they could be or achieve anything they wanted. (They don’t call it the “American dream” for nothing.)
Spain taught me more than I could have ever expected about the country’s language, cuisine and history, but the most surprising lesson was a personal one: To find joy wherever you happen to be.
I feel like to be able to choose to live in a place like Austin, where I don’t have to try very hard to find joy, but what a privilege it is to have a choice in the first place.
Every place has its ups and downs, and Austin is no different. Sure, we have a creative community that supports artists and local entrepreneurs, which is what enticed me to move here in the first place. We have the world’s best barbecue and breakfast tacos and iconic spaces like Barton Springs and the Cathedral of Junk that you won’t find anywhere else in America. I’m especially proud of the uber-supportive food community, which allows food bloggers, writers, chefs, artisans and farmers to take risks and find new ways of doing things. (See: Food trailers, Austin Food Blogger Alliance, Meaty Monday Madness, et al.)
But no place is perfect. We can hold ourselves and our cities to high standards, but it’s important to embrace the flaws or else you’ll spend your life picking them apart or, in the other extreme, pretending they don’t exist. After all, we’re just a few weeks into what will be at least three full months of an excruciating heat and drought that will make 92 degrees as a high in September feel like fall.
As more people who have a choice choose to move to our fine city, traffic, housing, schools and just about everything else is going to get tight, and we’ll all have to adjust our livelihoods around it, whether we like it or not.
Who knows if I’ll get finally get fed up with the heat and housing prices and move somewhere else. Who knows if we decide to move closer to my parents so my kids can grow up around their grandparents. Who knows if I’ll fulfill my dream of moving my family back to my beloved Spain for a few years.
I do know that I’m going to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of wherever I find myself, no matter if it’s Austin or Anchorage.
On tattoos on my wrist and ankle, I have two reminders to help me keep this all in perspective: “aquí” and “ahora.”
I live in Austin, but more importantly, I live here and I live now
Hailing from the Missouri Ozarks, Addie Broyles expanded her cooking (and eating) skills on the West Coast and Spain before settling in Austin, where she is the food writer for the Austin American-Statesman.
Addie is a leader in the Central Texas food blogging community, which has more than 200 food blogs by her last count, and has been named one of the top food writers on Twitter.
In Relish Austin, a column and food blog for the Austin American-Statesman, she writes about everything from farmers to food tattoos, blackberry pie to barbecues.
In her spare time, when she’s not chasing after her two young sons or fiddling around in the garden or on a sewing machine, she blogs about women and food on The Feminist Kitchen.
The University of Missouri graduate was recently named by Tribeza magazine as one of the top 10 people in Austin to watch in 2011, and the Austin Chronicle picked her as thetop food celebrity in the city.
See more of Addie’s photo shoot here.