On one the hottest days I have ever experienced, I moved to Austin, TX. It was the 16th of July, 2011 —right in the middle of one of the hottest Texan summers in decades. I was moving from a short stint in New York City and I really didn’t know what to expect of my new life in the Texan capital. All I remember thinking was “How do people live here? It’s just way too hot!”
Granted it was an unusually hot Summer that year, I quickly started liking (and eventually loving) my new surroundings, the people, the music, the lifestyle… everything.
The First photo I took upon arriving in Austin. It got one "Like" on Instagram.
A year and a half in, I went back to my dear homeland: Bogotá, Colombia. I distinctively remember missing Austin whilst being in the city I grew up in. This had never happened before. Not after living in Reno, Indianapolis, Pau or Torino. I loved the time I spend abroad, particularly living in Europe —but I’ve never missed a place this much whilst being in Colombia. It was then when I knew Austin was unique and special to me. One could say I finally found “my home away from home”. I never thought Texas, of all places, could turn into that for me.
On 15th August, 2015. A little over 4 years after moving to the land of breakfast tacos & live music, I will be embarking on a plane that will take me back to New York City. The difference this time, is that I bought a one way ticket.
I am moving back to New York after accepting a really exciting job opportunity as VP of User Experience Design at JP Morgan Chase.
I am being given the unique opportunity to work and define products and experiences that are directly relevant to a lot of people. I am going to be doing this primarily in Mobile: an area I had been longing to fully work on for years… —not just with side projects whenever I found free time. Most importantly: I am going to be working on products and experiences that are yet to be created. This is the kind of creative freedom that many dream of, but only a few get to realize in design (outside of founding one’s own startup). I am excited and quite honoured to get started with this new chapter in my experience as an Interaction Designer.
This decision was a really long time in the making. I’m still in awe of how it even came to be. It was one of those stories of the right people thinking about the right things at the right time and things alining magically with perfect timing. I am still in awe of how this process came to be. In due time, I will share more on the different building blocks that made this happen.
So… feelings? Yes. Quite a few right now...
Let’s start with Austin: Needless to say, I feel sad an nostalgic about leaving a place that spoke to me in so many ways. A place where I rediscovered myself and did more great things for myself than ever before. Perhaps it was because I arrived in Austin right in time for my very own Saturn Return (look it up. It's an interesting cosmic concept about reaching true maturity and finding the one true self around the age of 28/29 years old).
Austin is where I fully explored and expanded my musical self, whether it was by learning new instruments, or constantly being inspired by the countless shows Austinites are spoiled with every day. It’s the place where I learned to mix and produce electronic music. The place where I learned synth theory. The city where I got to meet my favourite artist and even play with them on stage one lucky evening.
Austin is where I got as much of city feel or the outdoors when I wanted. Whether it was being out at night somewhere downtown; running around Lady Bird Lake trail; going from pool party to pool party or recuperating from ACL Festival just in time for Fun Fun Fun Fest; I was always able to “dial” the intensity up or down of all the amazing things this city has to offer.
Austin offers a phenomenal sense of BALANCE, which I believe is crucial for happiness. A lot of energy and noise, but a lot of still and quiet. Not too expensive, but not cheap. Not too big, but not small. Not too cold, but…. OK —never cold and a little too hot at times… but it's surprisingly easy to get use to the heat when you don’t feel like you could “swim” in the air because it’s so humid.
But most of all, Austin will have me missing the people. The strangers that are always so nice (and always fewer by the day in a city this size), and of course, my dear friends. The family one gets to choose.
I feel lucky to have met some of the most fun, inspiring and admirable people I have ever met —and grateful to call many of them my friends. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what there is (anywhere you are), if you can’t experience it with people you care about and care about you. It’s truly priceless.
Sharing delicious food with great friends at all the innovative restaurants this foodie-haven city has to offer will always be on of my favourite things. Ever.
If you are reading is and you know this refers to you: Thank You. Gracias. From the heart.
And then, of course, now there's New York…
I always said to people here in Austin, when they asked me which one I like better between the capital of Texas and “The Capital of The World”, that I loved them both equally because they were simply not comparable. I couldn’t compare NYC to Austin the same way I can compare it to Chicago, London or San Francisco. They are different enough that I always felt allowed to “love them equally, yet differently”.
One thing is true: I grew up in Bogotá —a city that in many regards feels a lot like New York. A city where “everything and anything can happen”. An international urban behemoth. A place where the energy is intoxicating —both in a good and a bad way at times. But overall, a very inspiring and exciting place where you can find your niche, no matter what you like or do.
I’ve always loved New York. It’s a city that fits my way of life in a way most others can’t. Even though I certainly wasn’t planning on moving back after being happy and established in Austin all these years, the very thought of living in Manhattan fills me with joy and happy expectations. I get to go back in a far more comfortable situation that when I had to share an apartment with 3 other people in Long Island City 4 years ago. I get to work in what seems like it's going to be the most fulfilling design work to date. I get to eat at Caracas Arepas Bar whenever I want to and I get to reunite with old NYC friends I had only seen sporadically when they came to Texas for SXSW or one of the many other events happening here. I am truly excited for this and many more of the other experiences that being in the most vibrant city in the world will naturally yield.
I get to be near thes guys and many other NYC-based friends again soon...
Finally, I must highlight this is all happening during my 33rd year of residence on Planet Earth. I find this interesting because of a concept I learned from watching Smashing Pumpkin’s VH1 Story Tellers. Billy Corgan tells the story behind the song Thirty-Three, where he explains how a friend who read Tarot cards to him, said Billy's life would completely change at 33.
I can't help empathizing fully with one of my musical idols on this one.
My life is dramatically changing. Right now. And I couldn’t possibly see this change as nothing but "for the better". For the best.