Val’s Boldheart Story — How a Snake Led to My Move to Austin

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I stared at the ceiling and checked my phone: 2:45 a.m. Another sleepless weeknight due to work stress. I threw off the covers and rolled out of my bed.

I walked down the hall of my small apartment in Dallas, turned on my TV in the living room and plopped down into my black-and-white speckled couch. The room was completely dark, except for the flashing lights of the screen. Maybe I could fall asleep watching the snooze fest of a 3 a.m. infomercial.

Meet Val, a beautiful boldheart!

I was mildly entertained by some cooking device being hawked by a chipper couple when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving in the hallway. I glanced that direction.

Oh, that’s a snake, I thought casually, and then turned back to the TV.

Realization set in two seconds later: That’s a snake!!!

I let out a scream/wail, jumped off the couch, and crawled on top of my nearby kitchen bar counter. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. The snake remained still, then lifted its head and slithered back behind the hallway wall and out of my line of sight.

I waited several minutes before clutching a massive kitchen knife and tiptoeing down the hallway. The snake was gone, completely disappeared. He wasn’t found for two more days when the apartment maintenance staff tracked him down in my laundry room.

I was shaken and desperately wanted to move out of my apartment. I paid the reletting fee to get out of my lease with a 60-day notice.

Soon after, a long-held desire of mine began to resurface. Being from Dallas, I visited Austin several times while growing up. As a child, I toured the capitol building, and I spent a lot of time on 6th Street during college. I was always fond of the city, but when my youngest sister moved to Austin in 2013, she showed me the quaint, laidback, unique parts of Austin that tourists don’t know about. Something about the vibe resonated with me and felt like home.

I tried to make a move to Austin in 2014, but the timing wasn’t right. My other sister and her husband were recently told his cancer treatments weren’t working, and he only had a few months to live. I needed to be with my family through this transition. It wasn’t easy, but we got through his passing together. After a couple of years, our wounds were healing, and life was getting back to normal.

I was restless and yearning for a change of scenery. Maybe all of those sleepless nights weren’t just the result of work stress.

A month before my apartment lease was up, I saw a job posting in Austin that seemed like the perfect fit for me. I applied on a whim. Before I knew it, I was driving down to Austin for a half-day of interviews. Still, I moved forward with my life in Dallas, as if the Austin dream may not come true, and found a new place to live in Dallas that was hopefully snake-free.

With my everything packed and ready for my move, I was hours from picking up the keys to my new apartment when the recruiter from the Austin sent me a job offer. In order to make the timing work, I had to cancel my new Dallas apartment, move my items into storage, live with my parents for two weeks, and find a new place to live in Austin.

A few nights before I left for Austin, I was on my way to dinner with my parents.

“You know all of this started with a snake in my apartment,” I said from the backseat.

“Yeah. And why do snakes shed their skin?” my mom asked. (She’s a therapist who can read situations like a radiologist reads MRIs.)

“Because they’ve outgrown their bodies.” It was silent for a few moments. “Ohhhhhh. I outgrew my life here in Dallas. That snake was a sign of things to come in my life.”

“Mmmhmm,” my mom said, nodding in the front passenger seat.

Life in Austin hasn’t exactly been easy. I’m on my third job and third apartment in a year and a half. I feel like Goldilocks searching for a fit that’s “just right.” My experiences in Austin have been exhilarating, heartbreaking, joyous, frustrating, rewarding, delightful, lonely, scary, thrilling, and satisfying. In other words, they’ve been just like life.

I’m not sure if I’ll stay in Austin long term, but I know that the move has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve met the most fascinating people, had many deep and soulful conversations, and enjoyed some delicious life moments.

Most importantly, I took a risk and a leap of faith to follow my heart. It was worth every emotion to experience the ride.

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