| July 26, 2016 |
After moving out of Florida, and before transporting to Washington State, I took a quick trip to Houston, Texas! Why? It’s not JUST because of the amazing Tex Mex food (which I admit I underestimated the power of), nor was it due to the honkey tonk atmosphere I figured existed (my line dancing obsession must be explored every so often). I actually was drawn to Texas because of the people residing in the Lone Star State.
When one of my closest friends from Florida, Kasey, moved to Houston, I knew I would need to visit her. She was one of my first friends in Florida and always ignites my passion for travel. When she accepted a promotion and moved away from her home state, I was proud of her, but saddened to lose a close friend in my state of residence at the time. Another individual who has deeply affected me since October 2015 was also pulling me to Houston.
In the last year of my life, I feel my “Law of Attraction” has been in full effect. I’ve been attracting all kinds of people and experiences, and I now KNOW that your vibe always attracts your tribe.
[bctt tweet=”Your vibe attracts your tribe, always.” username=”@kconnwanderlust”]
Back in October 2015, I traveled to the Florida Keys with some of my closest friends to celebrate my birthday weekend at Bahia Honda State Park by camping and exploring. There, I felt the sparks fly with my skydiving instructor, Braden, and we spent the following months visiting each other and exploring our undeniable connection. It truly was something I had never experienced before, and I couldn’t let it go. In the past, I’ve felt many connections come and go, but this one stuck effortlessly until we were pulled apart by a greater distance in December 2015. Braden left Key West and moved to Houston, Texas. I felt immediate heartfelt pain, which was intensified when we realized we weren’t fully ready for commitment or distance. So, we went our separate ways for about five months. When I got back from Africa and launched this site (woo-hoo!), the first person I wanted to tell was… him. As he was a great supporter and sent me all the videos I watched to learn how to design a blog on WordPress (thereafter leading to my obsession with designing), I was dying to see what he thought of my new site. I fought this desire for a few weeks, but final succumbed, despite what I perceived as “better judgement.”
I took my chances and let him back in. I didn’t (and still don’t) understand entirely what the magnetic pull is, but it’s certainly there, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. With our connection reignited and my curiosity building, I planned to visit Braden and Kasey in Houston.
I wasn’t sure what it would mean to see him again, and honestly I was fearful. Leading up to our reunion (it had been six months since we saw each other), we talked quite often on the phone and FaceTime, but who knew what I would feel when I saw him. I didn’t allow myself to open up to him 100% leading up to the reunion in protection of my heart. What if I got hurt again? What if it didn’t work out? What if I wasn’t ready? I was exploding with “What if…” scenarios, but eventually decided to let go. I couldn’t predetermine how I would feel, and I also decided not to enter my visit with fear as my backdrop. I opened my heart.
When I exited the plane in Houston, my heart was literally racing. I ran to the bathroom to splash water in my face and take a few deep breaths. I knew he’d be waiting for me, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready. The “What if’s” came flooding back full-force, and I felt entirely SILLY for making this trip, and feeling manically bipolar in my mental emotions. One second, I was excited, and the next I was feeling stomach-dropping fear.
I saw him and everything changed.
I was ready.
All my past fears and resistance to vulnerability were released.
We embraced each other and the airport bustle surrounding us instantaneously stopped. I felt indescribably comfortable – so effortlessly me – being in his arms again. The last six months completely dissipated, and I felt as though we had never been separated. We walked hand-in-hand in the most natural of ways to his car, rambling nonstop – exchanging stories, dreams, goals, desires. He brought a renewed energy to my soul; I felt myself coming alive.
I had felt my light was dimming by recent connections I explored with people who didn’t entirely understand who I am. I’ve felt judged and misunderstood by a few people in recent days, but it hasn’t brought me down. I know who I am, and I know I deserve to be loved and feel blissfully happy. Though my path may not entirely be clear, it doesn’t matter. In addition to my support system at home in New York, I have another piece of my heart with someone who invigorates my being and loves me for exactly who I am. I’m completely myself, and I love the person I am when I’m with him. I don’t need him, but I want him. I am a better me because of him.
I felt a glowing smile tattooed on my face in his presence. I realized, this is how it feels to be happy.
In Houston, we shared blissful memories, which led to our decision to continue exploring our connection and fully commit to each other. It was filled with non-stop surprises and laughs.
Adventure certainly awaits, and I can’t wait to see where our futures entwine.
Johnson Space Center | NASA
Through one of Braden’s connections as a skydiving tandem instructor, we were given a private tour of Houston’s Space Center. It was a mind-blowing evening where we got to not only LOOK AT, but actually USE the exercise equipment the astronauts use in space! I had a total nerd alert as I ran on the same treadmill used to assist maintaining cardiovascular functioning during antigravity space travel.
According to NASA, C.O.L.B.E.R.T. (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill) “will be used to maintain bone, muscle, and cardiovascular conditioning on the International Space Station crewmembers. The COLBERT is instrumented to collect inflight research-grade data for experiments that are representative of critical mission tasks on future long-duration exploration missions.”
We also got to use the weight machine utilized in space, which works on a pressure system to establish resistance. Simply lifting weights does NOTHING because of gravity. Researchers at Johnson Space Center have truly innovated some seemingly simple, yet incredibly impressive, pieces of equipment.
We then journeyed to both OLD and NEW mission control centers, which was simply unreal.
Here, Braden is sitting in the old mission control room as Mission Director. This is literally the room where President Kennedy stood as we landed on the moon for the first time. (Oh, and sorry kids but if you go on the standard tour, you won’t get to ENTER this room – but you can see it behind the glass!).
We actually saw a LIVE FEED of a satellite in orbit around Earth – a view from the spacecraft as it hovered over Australia. It was absolutely mesmerizing, and I could’ve stayed all day (especially for another few hours until the astronauts woke up! They were sleeping while we were watching).
We even got to see the room where training occurs for missions such as going to Mars, which is certainly in the works of planning. It was a little late in the evening, so there were no workers buzzing around, but it was still impressive to see all the capsules…
I am so grateful for the kindness Braden’s friend showed us in giving us such an incredible tour!
Jacob’s Well | Austin
After filling our bellies with kolaches, we headed to Jacob’s Well right outside of Austin for some afternoon swimming. You have to reserve a time slot to swim in the well, as it’s a small area, but it’s incredibly worth it. There’s rock surrounding the swimming hole, with a platform to jump off into the deeper, central core. The central cave descends for 30 feet vertically, then meanders deeper to about 120 feet (ideal for cave SCUBA divers).
Tex Mex Food Galore
On our way back from Jacob’s Well, we stopped at my new favorite taco joint, Torchy’s Tacos. Every month, a new taco is featured, and this month it was the Tipsy Chick: Tender grilled chicken with grilled corn & green chiles, fresh baby spinach, a homemade Maple Bacon & Bourbon Marmalade, cheddar cheese, and Chipotle Ranch. Served on a flour tortilla. Mmmmmm… Way too good to be true.
I was lucky enough to join forces with Braden in a different capacity on his work-related project. I played “actor” in Skydive Spaceland’s new instructional video for tandem jumpers (shown to tens of thousands of people a year), as the tandem jumper with Braden as my instructor! It was a BLAST to hang at the drop zone with the skydivers and staff. Also, I got FOUR skydives out of my time. I can’t complain at all.
And there’s more!
This was only a portion of my time in Houston. I also joined forces with Kasey and her friend, Jeremy, where we explored the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We had our minds blown by a video in the planetarium about Dark Matter & Dark Energy, then meandered our way around the Cockrell Butterfly Center, where the rice paper species of butterflies were constantly attached to me. I literally walked around the butterfly garden with 1-3 butterflies on me at all times. I felt a little sorry for the little kids who were DYING to have a butterfly land on them. A woman walked by me stating, “You must have really good energy.” That made me smile
On Thursday evening, we even went to Little Woodrow’s bar in Midtown Houston to experience turtle racing. The poor numbered turtles were places in a central hill, and had to race to the outskirts of the circle (toward a raging crowd!). The first turtle to pass the outer circle’s border would win, and whoever “bet” on the turtle would win whatever the free drink was of the night (*for the drink award, your turtle had to win 2/3 races). It was pure ridiculousness, but fortunately my lucky number is five, and I picked The Trumpster twice, and won… twice!
I am truly grateful I had this week to reignite my relationship with Braden, and also to visit a dear friend, before heading to Olympia, Washington on my new life adventure. What a beautiful way to explore a second chance at a relationship, and leave my heart feeling anew. Even though Houston was a little bizarre, I would definitely return!