Austin is for Lovers

(as well as students, alcoholics, champions, young professionals, activists, singles, and a million other categories)
What does it mean to be at home? I'll skip the numerous references from journals and get right to the heart of the discussion for myself. As an American of Spanish decent who grew up in New York and Houston I often identified with the former and ignored the latter at every turn. Houston never felt like home outside of my families house. A flip was switched as soon as I stepped through the door into Southeast Houston, and I was a completely different person. No matter what, I always had my brothers and sisters.
When I chose to go to the University of Texas at Austin, I knew I'd be enduring seasons and almost years before seeing my New York family again, but my mother was close and my brother who was always an extension of myself was closer. Apart from skating through much of UT on what I had learned in middle and high school, I learned life lessons on the subjects of love, professionalism, and independence. My brother and I went different ways... got girlfriends, a different kind of dependence... created and joined different social circles, and lived apart, giving us the opportunity to live different lives for the first time.
I pledged for a fraternity, dropping myself because of my inability to maintain adequate grades, and I couldn't be happier that I did. I never spoke badly of them, though I know a few did of me, and it gave me a justification, knowing that some people will do what's wrong if it's expected of them. Instead I started attending the European Student Association meetings, of which I was introduced to by Kriti C. my co-worker at the International Office at the University of Texas and friend. Aleksey was working at the office and a member of the ESA at this time as well and soon after I met Ouna, Prinon, Kyle, Nikita, Thai, and numerous others. These men had created something and it wasn't until I was in it that I realized what it was. It was a brotherhood. There were letters. There were tests, but not any kind of any measure that you could think of.
At once I had a new family and a new home. Austin was my playground and as early as my freshman year I was out and about 5 nights a week. I learned Austin like the back of my hand, even East Austin, where no squeemish students dared travel. The climate became as predictable as it was unpredictable. Music shows became an entitlement and I have never been short of a party because if we couldn't find one, we made one. *This actually happened, the first time courtesy of Yoshi.
Since moving away an ache has pained me and although I know I have too many places to visit and live in the world to move back, I have no  doubt that I won't make it back there as long as I am possible to visit my friends, brother, and university. You choose to spend your life on only really a few things and these have been the focus of much of the last 6 years and I couldn't be happier that I did. I've made so many mistakes, especially in the course of my academics and relationships, but I took it at face value as a learning experience and tried to make sense of my senseless (at times) actions.
Austin is where I grew... It tried me, but I am better because I lived there and hope that every place I live gives me as much of an opportunity to learn as that city did.