READ MORE: That Time This Texan Moved to Abilene, Part 1

When life pulled me to Austin, then Nashville, I still wistfully wished I was in Abilene. The big cities were fun, but they had oppressive traffic and sky-high rent. I longed to be nearer my family and the familiar. So when an opportunity arose to move back to Texas in 2008, we took it.

I was relieved. After eight years away, I was moving back to Abilene. This move would put me only two hours away from my relatives in Fort Worth. As a mother to young children, I was thrilled to be closer to grandparents. Most of all, I was stoked to be moving back to the Big Country.

Our family settled into a home within walking distance of my alma mater, Abilene Christian University. In case you didn't know, ACU has a two-mile paved walking trail around campus; this trail has been one of my absolute favorite places in Abilene to unwind, soak up some sun, and talk with my people.

It's been fun to watch the city evolve over the past 16 years. Much has changed, especially downtown. My list of Big Country recommendations continues to grow (coffee joints, locally-owned eateries, destination sites like Fandangle and Perini Ranch).

Not gonna lie. This time around in Abilene has been much harder - more complicated and messy - than I ever imagined. My feelings about this place are now complex. I have such great love for the Key City. It's broken my heart too.

However, since moving back to Abilene, I brought another kiddo into the world. This town I've loved for so long is her birthplace. I've raised her and her siblings here, and it's been a good place to do so.

I'm thankful for the ways this community has cared for and buoyed my family.

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Greenhouses and Plant Nurseries in Abilene Texas

Where to buy garden and lawn supplies in the Big Country.

Gallery Credit: Jana Keyes

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