I travel a lot for work. As anyone who travels for work will know, people always say, “You get to travel a lot? That must be nice!” And it is nice. It’s fun to see all the different nooks and crannies of the United States, and I love meeting people from all the different walks of life I do. It’s a privilege.

But it’s not all get to. Over time, it’s become a lot more have to, and that is largely thanks to the diamond in the rough that is my home: Austin, Texas.

Growing up, I didn’t have much of a sense of home. The only house we spent a good amount of time in we were abruptly evicted from, and there weren’t many other places we lived for more than a year. I bounced around a lot in Indiana and Michigan, the midwest, the west west and a little out east, and by the time I finished grad school I had lived in more “homes” than I was years old. “Military family?” people would ask. Nope, just poor.

When I started doing what I do now, it was when I first moved to Austin, a few short years ago. I was traveling a lot, and I really loved it. But now whenever I’m on the road I find myself missing Austin in a way that I’ve never missed a place. All the signs point to me finally having a home, and Austin, TX having my heart:

When I’m on the road, Austin-y things are the last things on my mind when I go to sleep, and the first things on my mind when I wake up.

There is no other city that has a higher number of “people I care most about in the world.”

I constantly find myself explaining what breakfast tacos are, with the same intensity and evangelism as a person who knocks on your door and asks if you have a moment for Jesus.

I use “we” as a substitute for “Texans” in sentences, and it’s stopped giving me the willies.

I graduated from the phase of being Austin’s biggest recruiter whenever I’m on the road into the phase of trying to prevent more people from moving to our town and ruining it.

HEB has become synonymous with grocery store.

I ask people in other towns what their bike trails are like, how often they go to free shows, what their favorite mediterranean restaurants are, and other questions that are based on the assumption that everyone has access to those things, and enough access to rank them (because they should).

I assume restaurants will have a vegan menu, or, at least, veggie options.

I assume if I smile and say “Hi!” to someone they will smile and say “Hi!” back.

I need gloves and a coat and a scarf to survive below 60°F.

As I learned the last time I was in Chicago, and my hometown, there is no longer any other town in the country where I am able to comfortably give street-by-street directions.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around living in a place where I would need more than a bike to get around.

I find myself harboring an inexplicable prejudice against the state of Oklahoma.

Looking at that photo at the top of this page fills my heart with inexplicable warm gooeyness.