Favorite place to road trip
Waco, TX. Saturday, I completed my fifth trip to Waco, but my third this year. It makes no sense at all. Texas is home to some large and gorgeous cities, the Hill Country, lovely beaches, and some wonderful small towns, but there are none that I love as much as Waco.
Interestingly, the Magnolia Silos that typically attract most people to the city has never compelled me. No disrespect to Joanna and Chip, but I’ve never seen an episode of Fixer Upper. I don’t have cable so I don’t plan on watching on either. Houston has the best food, I have ever eaten in life. Waco is home to a series of chain restaurants, but even their local food is not out of the park amazing. If you asked me what draws me to Waco as a city, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can tell you about everything I have come to love when I go.
The first time, I went to Waco, I had the luxury of being escorted by a local.
Who as we pulled off of the I-35 began to tell me stories of his time as a child in Waco and all the mischief he and his friends created: setting forests on fire, the time the FBI came to his school and carving a styrofoam boat to shoot the Bosque River and ending up two miles away from his home. Nostalgia is contagious; I caught it. The life he described was something like the Hardy Boys, and I was mesmerized that what felt like fiction was actualized in the life of a man. As the afternoon progressed, I went to lunch at Kitok and met his parents. I don’t remember the food or the conversation. I remember two things. Being nervous as hell and his mom interjecting everytime someone her children had grown up with came into the restaurant. It was different from my upbringing. There are not
many any people I have grown up with that I am still in contact with currently. I remember telling him on the drive back how much of a luxury it was that he had friends from childhood. He then offered some bullshit theory about female friendships that I was too feminist to ascribe too…cough, cough mansplaining.
The second time, I went was in March of 2017. I went with my friend Christeen to visit my friend Priscilla who went to Baylor at the time.
Most of the time, there I had my friend on the other line instructing us on where to go and what to do. He led me to two places, I have grown to love intensely. I will only share one of them right now. Dichotomy is my ideal coffee shop for a number of reasons. (1) It is good coffee. (2) It is good mixed drinks where the bartenders have ownership over their craft. (3) The aesthetics are good for socializing or studying. (4) They have a covered rooftop. (5) Parking is easy. Transparently, they may be my favorite coffee place in America…and I have been to Portland. I do like pretty subpar coffee though. I like a light roast that’s not going to put hair on my chest. I love going into a coffee shop and having the opportunity to be completely anonymous or known. Dichotomy is the exception to the “Waco has bad food” rule.
The three times, I have gone in 2018 have all been for concerts. Baylor University is a private Christian university which makes Waco a college town in my head. In walking distance from the campus is Common Grounds.
A coffee shop, but more importantly a concert venue that attracts eclectic, obscure, and often minimally recognized musicians and artists who deal with Christian themes (implicitly or explicitly). It has been life-giving. It’s not even that the artists don’t come to Houston. For King Kaleidoscope and Propaganda both came to Houston, but the appeal of seeing them at Common Grounds was greater. The way they interact with the crowd is just different. It’s personal. I get to see them as people who generate art, not artists. I look forward to potentially seeing Gungor, The Brilliance, and Propaganda there next year. As I think more about it, the value for me in Common Grounds is that they continually bring artists that have created music or poetry that has resonated with me. How could I stay away?
What I have learned to love in my most recent trip to Waco is that it is the perfect place for me to escape and return to just being human. Fighting to exist in a big city makes me feel so small in all the ways that breed insecurity, doubt, and fear. I am entirely inadequate. When I spend the night in Waco it’s done away from the downtown area.
When I look outside, I am greeted by an array of stars hidden by city lights attempting to steal their grandeur. I feel small in all the best ways. My humanity restored to it’s incandescent and opalescent splendor in all the ways that make me feel hopeful and filled with wonder. The way children feel when overtaken by natural beauty.
Waco highlights every country song authored about the Texas sky. I have never attempted to capture the sunrise, sunset, or starscape. It feels rude to take candids of nature exposing herself to you. When something bares itself to you, appreciate it. Marvel at the complexity and the simplicity. Take it all in and create a memory.
Don’t preemptively seize the moment, by taking a photo. You lose so much and remember less. This includes people who bare themselves emotionally or physically to you.
My last trip to Waco, I spent a significant amount of time in Cameron Park. Which was the second place, I was led to by my friend. Cameron Park is the 2nd largest park in the nation, only trailing behind Central Park in New York. When you drive through Cameron Park it is surreal. It is as if you are a romantic in a car commercial, with winding hills and overarching trees inviting you to steal a lovers kiss. I’m still waiting to have mine stolen…I digress.
Friday, I drove to Cameron Park and stood at Lover’s Leap. In a moment of true escape, I put my emotional guard down and just allowed myself to feel small in all the ways, I wish I had the luxury to be in daily life: weak, vulnerable, scared, tired, but cared for. I let the cool air whip my tears away into the Bosque River, trusting not one lament was wasted. Pluto played in the background recounting the heaviness that I have felt and may continually feel.
I’ve been worried all my life
A nervous wreck most of the time
I’ve always been afraid of heights
Of falling backward, falling backward
I’ve been worried all my life
Until one day I had enough
Of this exercise of trust
I leaned in and let it hurt
Let my body feel the dirt
When I break pattern, I break ground
I rebuild when I break down
I wake up more awake than I’ve ever been before
Still, I’m pinned under the weight
Of what I believed would keep me safe
So show me where my armor ends
Show me where my skin begins
Like a final puzzle piece
It all makes perfect sense to me…
The heaviness that I hold in my heart belongs to gravity
The heaviness that I hold in my heart’s been crushing me
I wept for twenty minutes. It felt so freeing to be weak, even if was in solitude. Nudity is precious even where there is no one to look on. I hope for more of those moments in Waco. I am grateful for the opportunity to have them.
Well, I guess I told you what draws me to Waco.