Today I’ll visit Wisconsin for the very first time. (Even though my brother lived there ages ago with his family. Like, for years. Best. Sister. Ever.)

This trip has had me thinking. It’s been a summer of a lot of firsts for me so I made a list:

-Ventured to Waco and discovered hills (blessed topography!) and Magnolia Market which is pure magic.

-Navigated in I45 traffic. I figured if my sister could be brave in New York when I visited her, then I could be brave in Houston when she visited me. (That’s right. I went to New York to visit my sister but I couldn’t make it to Wisconsin to visit my brother. I will not be asking my brother for a eulogy. Can you imagine? “My sister had a bright smile and sunny disposition which would have warmed our lives through the bitter Wisconsin winters. Alas, she never came to visit, and we were left to plod on in our dreary existence the best we could.”)

-Trying my hand at writing horror. Turns out horror is right up my dark and foreboding alley.

-NOLA which has its own list of firsts: chatting up a street artist and going home with a piece of her art, eating a beignet while listening to bagpipes, sitting in a cafe after 9pm listening to jazz and feeling like life was all around pretty great.

-Horseback riding with a 10-year-old trail guide. It was a cool experience as long as I don’t think too much about how a horse almost rolled over with my 7-year-old sitting on his back. I realized in that moment that I have zero horse smarts and no clue what to do in a situation like that. The 7-year-old handled it like a champ and clung to the saddle until someone could pull the horse back to his feet. But if I don’t think about that part it was a  pretty cool experience.

-Driving through rural Arkansas and Missouri and falling in love with both places. Who knew?

-Sharing my writing in a new way. It’s terrifying and leaves me feeling both exposed and kind of mighty. Just don’t make eye contact with me. It’s fine.

-Taking a brief jaunt across the Mississippi River to Fort Madison in Iowa. When I say Fort Madison I mean we went inside an actual fort, or rather, a replica of the actual fort. They burned down the original when they abandoned it in order to avoid starvation. We were hungry by the time we were done, but we did not burn down the fort as we left.

It’s been a summer of firsts. Pushing past the fear or hesitation led to some of my favorite experiences of the summer, and even the year.

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