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What I Learned From My First Vacation With My Woman

After I wrote last week’s post about preparing for my vacation to Austin with Gina, I heard a variety of responses. Some people told me traveling with a significant other was their way of finding out whether or not they were the right person for them, the ultimate test so to speak. Others said it didn’t make a difference at all, that if Gina was truly the one, a vacation with her wouldn’t change that no matter how things would unfold. That latter point was specifically something my friend Ace told me, and while I understood where he was coming from, I still felt like the trip would be an eye-opening experience for me and my relationship with Gina. It turned out I was right.

There were lessons, big and small, that I learned not only about myself, but Gina, and of course, Austin, Texas, a place neither of us had ever been. Those who follow me on Instagram were able to see I had a good time, specifically with stuffing my face full of some of the most delicious food I ever tasted, but here are some more thoughts and stories from my first adventure with Gina.

The day before I left, my friend Rachel shared a story with me about her recent first-time trip with her boyfriend. She told me about a candle she took with her so her and her boyfriend could make the place where they were staying feel like their own. This is valuable advice, especially for people like Gina and I, who were using Airbnb. For the unfamiliar, Airbnb is a service that basically allows you to rent someone’s home for the time you’re staying at your destination. Inspired by Rachel’s story, I decided to do the same thing, except I didn’t have a candle. Instead, I packed a picture of Gina and I that I normally leave on my refrigerator. When we arrived at our weekend residence, the first thing I did was put that picture up on the hosts’ refrigerator.

Long time readers will recall the story I told years ago about traveling with an ex-girlfriend of mine, and how it almost killed me. But I wasn’t about to let a past near-death experience get in the way of Gina and I experiencing our own adventures, which is why I was excited about the idea of trying out Stand Up Paddling at Lady Bird Lake.

The minute I stepped on that board is the minute I almost fell, and I ended up falling not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. Gina, on the other hand, ended up only falling twice, and the second time was when she was trying to save me. It was a pathetic display of grace and balance on my part.

Before we got on our boards, we were told to make sure we don’t leave our paddles in the water for more than 30 seconds. Any longer and the paddle will fill up with water then start to sink resulting in the company having to charge you $100 for a lost paddle, not to mention the tax of embarrassment you will be charged when using your arms to get back to shore.

My fourth and last fall was the worst because not only did I flip over, the board flipped over with me, so I couldn’t put the paddle back on the board. I had to hold above water while trying to keep my lifejacket-less body afloat and try to flip the boat over. This is what caused Gina to fall in the water her second time, because she had to help me, but I was panicking not for my own life, but the life of the paddle. “FORGET ABOUT ME, GET THE PADDLE! TAKE THE PADDLE!” I yelled as she came towards me. She did as I asked her to and grabbed the paddle and put it up on her board. That’s when I calmed down, but if it was my time to go, that would’ve been fine, so long as I didn’t leave her with a $100 bill from damages incurred for a lost paddle.

On Sunday, Gina and I decided to brave the legendary line at Franklin Barbecue. This meant standing in the Texas heat for over five hours, which is what we were expecting. That didn’t detour us, and we quickly made friends with the people in line behind us, who were coincidentally Austin natives. That was a rare thing we heard, as most Austinonians have either already had Franklins or like NYC people feel about the Empire State Building, will put off a visit until they absolutely must go.

Since we were visiting, the good people from Austin wanted to know where we had been, and even though it had been less than 48 hours, we found ourselves ticking off at least five or six different places where we ate, drank, and visited. “Damn,” one of the natives said. “You all know this city better than I do.” The crazy thing is, as much as Gina and I did, I’m sure we only scratched the surface of all the cool activities and quality eats in Austin. Speaking of Austin…

I left truly enamored with the capital of Texas. It had the perfect combination of outdoor activities for folks who like to get fit while having fun and cool, modern spaces to kick back and relax over a drink or coffee. They specialize in not only three of my favorite things, barbecue, tacos, and coffee, but with over 1,000 food trucks, there was no shortage of options for nourishment. The food truck movement is very authentic out there, and it will be one of the reasons I come back. That and the fact that out there breakfast tacos seem to be their unofficial food. Don’t get me wrong, New York City has come a long ways when it comes to their taco choices out here, especially in the last 10 years I’ve lived here, but Austin is light years ahead of them if only because the breakfast taco is almost a mandatory item on any menu that serves food.

Before I left, I talked about how my boy once said traveling with his wife made him feel like they were at their best and it was my hope that I would discover something similar when Gina and I went on our journey. As it turns out, I did discover something, but it wasn’t about my relationship with Gina so much as it was my relationship with New York City.

At some point, my relationship with NYC became something deeper than city and resident. I became dependent on it to give me everything I wanted and even though many people can still tell I’m not from here, many others also can tell I’ve been here for a while. Eventually, I put all my money on New York stock and decided for myself that there is no place I would rather be than here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else because New York City gave me everything I wanted in a place I called home.

After going to Austin with Gina, I realized that as much as I loved it there, experiencing that city for the first time would not have been as great if it not for her. And of course coming back home was nice too, but it was made all the more better that she was sitting in the seat next to me. I don’t care where I travel off to next, and I don’t care if I end up calling a place other than New York City my home. What I care about is wherever I go next, I hope she is there with me.

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  • Tiffani

    Well it’s a good thing I didn’t suggest the paddleboard yoga. You’ll definitely fall off a lot doing that. And, just yesterday, for the first time, I panicked about possibly leaving Austin and Texas, realizing I wouldn’t be able to get breakfast tacos or TexMex

  • GemmieBoo

    this is a great post.

    ive only ever taken one vacay with an SO (my current one). i love the idea of taking a bit of home with you wherever you go.

    have you ever been to Portland? apparently its Austin’s sister city – and the way you describe ATX sounds exactly like PDX (without the amazing BBQ, unfortunately). add lots of breweries, wineries, and distilleries to the mix and youve got yourself a great dining and drinking experience.

    cheers to great memories!

  • 1_goodlife

    Awww…makes me wanna go to Austin too. Theres a lot of paddle boarding places out here in Jersey prolly an hour away from the city if you ever want to get better at it