Discover more from Cruel Summer Book Club
Q: How do you make friends in a new city?
A: Start a newsletter two years before you know you'll move there
I celebrated two years in Austin on June 1. While my time here has mostly been calm and lovely, it’s a huge undertaking to start a new life from scratch, and I’ve had a lot of Big Feelings along the way. Like a hermit crab, I’m still in the process of leaving that familiar old shell behind and making this newer one really feel like home.
Austin threw a lot of magic my way to help me craft a beautiful life here. But nothing has been more magical than the soft, easy breeze that brought new friends into my life and set them down at my feet, like that traveling feather in Forrest Gump.
When I visited Austin for five weeks in February 2021—testing the waters to see if Austin should be my new home like I had a hunch it should be—I put out a call in this newsletter asking if anyone in Austin wanted to get together. One reader, Summer, responded. We met up in Zilker Park and took a walk. Then she added me to an Instagram group called ATX Leftists which held the key to the women who would become my rocks in my new life in Texas.
Once I moved to Austin for good in June ‘21, I met up with the group in real life, and the rest was history. I knew I wanted community and service to be a much bigger part of my life in Austin than it was in New York, and this group made that instantly possible. Reza runs a magazine about sustainability outside her day job and put on a twice-yearly Slow Fashion Festival. Tanzia is a one-woman show with an urban gardening company that teaches underserved kids how to grow their own food. Daniela ran for city council in Austin as a queer Latina. Christa helps run Austin’s free fridge program and hosted an inclusive Valentine’s Day celebration with a love puddle in her backyard. Kellie hosts park cleanups with Garbage Humans of ATX and works with immigrants. Ana worked with a harm reduction program where anyone can pick up free Narcan and fentanyl tests.
I learned so much from these women and suddenly had so many ways to show up for them, and my community. And they showed up for me. They’re photographers and nurses and government employees. Some are sober and introduced me to new, more authentic ways to have fun. They invited me to Nowruz celebrations, camping excursions, fairy-themed picnics, Bollywood birthday parties, and game nights. They filled my cup.
There are so many hard things about moving to a new place. But meeting a wonderful, welcoming group of women in Austin was easy for me. And it was all thanks to this newsletter. When I launched Cruel Summer Book Club in July 2019, I had no idea it would introduce me to a centering group of new friends in a city I hadn’t yet even considered moving to. I feel so much awe when I think about that, and lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot.