Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.




It’s been a little quiet around here because life offline has been extra full.

Last week I moved from Dallas back to Houston. Depending on the person and their relationship to me, it was either an enormous surprise or a long time coming. Honestly, it was sometimes both, to myself, depending on the day.

When I moved to Houston the first time, it was more or less an escape from a nightmarish job in Austin. Interning for Kingsland turned out to be a dream position for me, and the people were incredible; but when I read back journals from that time, I’m reminded how set I was on it being just an interim gig while I figured out my next move. When I left a year and a half ago, I wanted to leave. I figured I’d never go back.

The only reason I didn’t go further than Dallas at the time was because I was dating someone there, and the move was a logical one. When that relationship ended two weeks later (more a surprise to others than either of us in it), a lot of people assumed I would move back home — but Houston wasn’t home then, and I certainly wasn’t sad to be in a new place with a job I could already tell I loved. The only thing I might have changed was to have gone a longer ways away; to Colorado Springs, maybe, or Charlotte or Santa Fe.

Over the next 17 months, I got to build RightNow Media’s social media marketing from scratch — overarching strategy, voice, branding, content plan, visual direction, everything — and, with the help of a wildly talented creative team, grow it to a healthy, steadily-growing community. I’m so proud of the work I got to do for the company, and excited to hand off a dynamic product to a new coordinator and see them run with it.

I got to sit under the teaching of The Village Church and be part of a small group of kind, vulnerable, and hilarious humans who pushed me to seek Christ in my everyday.

I made some of the best friends you can imagine, the kind of friends that should be once-in-a-lifetime but for some reason I get to have extra, because God is real and loves me.

I didn’t — and this sounds like an exaggeration, but I swear to you, it is not — go a single workday without full-on belly laughing. You would, too, if you got to share a workspace with Mike Marshall, Daniel Lu, Chase Martin, Jeff Smith, Jared Tohlen, Mateo Boyd, Charles Dew and Megan Kvalvik. (Some people measure their success in money or achievement. I think I might measure mine in laughter.)

I had the freedom to write and travel a lot. The Texas Water Safari story I produced is probably my favorite writing accomplishment to date, although the 254 Challenge is giving it a run for its money in pure enjoyment.

In short, I loved all that my time in Dallas held.

But something weird happened during my time there, too.

I started missing Houston.

When people asked where I was from, I felt it tug on my soul. I’d say Austin, but I’d always end up talking about Houston. I started driving back more frequently. I started sacrificing PTO to stay a little longer. I started crying, reliably, when I left. Suddenly, not only was I glad I hadn’t gone further than Dallas; I wished I wasn’t so far away.

In the hours on I-45 between the two cities, I spent a lot of time praying, thinking, debating. I wondered (to myself and others) if I was crazy to leave what I had in Dallas, and if I was crazy to miss out on what I had in Houston. I also wanted to wait until I was absolutely sure that what I felt was true and not just an itch.

Finally, the right conditions lined up. RightNow’s social media was at a good transition point. Kingsland needed a contract writer for a year to revise and rewrite their youth curriculum — a project with and for people I love. Three of my friends in the area all had leases up at the end of October and found a great four-bedroom house for rent. My roommate and I pretty easily found a subletter. It all worked, and I went ahead and took the leap.

Was it easy? Absolutely not. And what a privilege, right? To have two places, multiple opportunities, groups of people I love and who love me back to make decisions hard. But sometimes you just know something’s right, and this was.

I’m in Houston by choice now, with a unique community of people and the perfect place to try my hand at going completely freelance as a writer and marketing professional — something I’ve always wanted to do, but not felt confident I could pull off until this year. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s home, and I know that now.

As Tsh Oxenreider once said after an unexpected move back to her own hometown, “Going back isn’t the same as never leaving.”

Grateful to be grateful — to know what I have, and to have not gone so far that I couldn’t return.

Here’s to the move back down south!

254 | Denton County

254 | Denton County

254 | Henderson County

254 | Henderson County