I grew up visiting Abilene regularly.  After my paternal grandparents worked and raised their kids in West Texas, they retired to Abilene, a block from Abilene Christian University. Childhood trips to see my dad's family landed us in the Key City two or three times a year.

My memories of these visits are warm. Hanging out with my brother and cousins at my grandparents' house top the recollections, but I also fondly recall attending a variety of events at ACU (Camp Wildcat, Sing Song, Bible Teachers' Workshop) and worship services at my grandparents' church.

The summer between my junior and senior year of high school I participated in ACU's Junior Scholars program, living on campus in a dorm for six weeks. I took two college courses, thrilled at the independence and feeling like a grown-up.

Moving into the ACU dorm and putting down roots in Abilene.
Moving into the ACU dorm and putting down roots in Abilene.

My paternal grandparents and all their children attended ACU. Growing up around people who had such love for the school, ACU was it for me. I didn't apply to attend university anywhere else. This town, that campus, felt like home.

I graduated high school and made the move. Spending four years at ACU rooted me even deeper into the Abilene community. I made friends, joined a church, met and married a boy, took a job. And then, I wanted to stay.

Stay I did, for two years after graduating college. I settled into the easy way of life that is Abilene. No traffic. Mild winters. Stunning sunsets. And I still visited my grandparents.

Life took me away from Abilene in 1999 - to Austin, then Nashville - but I always longed to be back in the Big Country. In 2008, I got my wish.

READ MORE: That Time This Texan Moved to Abilene, Part 2

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