Last week wrapped up my time at the Karnes City detention center. The last 3 months working in the Texas family detention centers have been admittedly grueling. I tend to think that I compartmentalize when I need to—spending days at the detention center can do a number on your psyche and I was doing the best I could to push through.
But I noticed that the last couple weeks at work, it was getting more difficult to wake up and soldier on. The threshold was close to being hit.
So, the original plan was to head to the Gulf Coast for a bit and decompress before moving on to the next stop on this journey.
Appreciating the present moment
The first few days on the coast were pretty great. The coastal air immediately put me more at ease and I instantly appreciated the slower pace of everything. One of my closest friends came to South Padre Island to help celebrate my 34th birthday, and it was a great time! For those first several days, I really felt myself trying to take in all of the small things: walking on the sand, watching the tide come in, looking at all of the wildlife on the shore.
I tried to stay as present as possible and take it all in. I had a whole new appreciation for simply being able to sit outside. It was pretty wonderful.
Friday the 13th strikes
Friday the 13th may be the real deal, everyone. It all started in the wee hours of the morning, where the place I was staying in Rockport, Texas through a hotel voucher was, er, not singularly occupied by just myself. It's true that everything is bigger in Texas, including insect life. Blergh.
I didn't get much sleep at all that night but decided that I would go get some work done at a nearby coffee shop and get a strong cup of coffee as a 'lil consolation for making it through a rough night. I got to the coffee shop and there was no wifi and the coffee was pretty burnt.
From there, I thought that a hike at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge would do me good—time outside in the fresh air. Just a couple miles outside of the park, trouble ensued.
There was a construction zone and long story short—a construction truck inexplicably made a wide left hand turn from the opposing traffic lane and hit my car (luckily, I am okay!):
We waited outside in the blistering heat for an hour and a half, only to have a police officer from the wrong county come and had us fill out our own reports.
Then, I made the decision to essentially scratch the rest of the Gulf Coast trip and take in the car to the city to get it repaired.
I made it to Austin late on Friday night and at that point just wanted a shower and to go to bed. I luckily had another voucher for an Airbnb stay and arrived—only to be told that the shower wasn't functioning and that I had to wait until the morning. So, I went to bed covered in car grease and Texas heat but I was so tired, that I fell asleep almost instantly.
Yeah, it was a rough day, but I was physically okay—and things could have been much worse. But I think I will be taking Friday the 13th a little more seriously from now on... :-)
austin or bust
I was planning on stopping through Austin at some point before leaving Texas, but it looked like I was going to be in town earlier than I thought. It was definitely a scramble, but very luckily, a generous friend is having me housesit his place while he is out of the country (and many thanks to you all who reached out!).
I've only been back to Austin twice in the last 8 years, and it has changed a ton (as everyone says). But the essence of this town is still here.
All in all, I feel like I relearned one of life's central teachings again this week: sure, you can plan and organize all you want—but life is what happens when you make other plans.
During the car accident, we were luckily both driving very slowly, but I remember those 5 seconds of impact as though they lasted 5 minutes. That event had thrusted me on a different trajectory that I had no control over and has led me to the present moment.
The meaning I will forge out of this situation is that there is a fine balance between rolling with the punches and steering that ship in the general direction you want to go in.
Which leads me to now. There's no use in expending precious energy getting frustrated about the car (I recognize that would be a waste of emotional resources). Instead, I will do all I can to get it fixed in a timely manner and make the most of my time here in Austin.
I am looking forward to not only getting a chance to decompress in this different locale, but meet with others who I have been directly/indirectly working with at the detention centers further south. And I hope to connect with many of you along the way!
This entire journey has been anything but predictable. But I am noticing an increasing sense of stillness and acceptance when lemons are dealt. And I continue to build up that flexibility/adaptability muscle (mixed in with a healthy sense of admitting when I am frustrated).
But I am grateful for you all and would love to hear how you are doing—please feel free to hit "reply" and drop me a line! 'Til next time from Austin.