This past week, Austin and I traveled deep into the humid heart of Texas… Houston!

It was a long journey, but one filled with the thrill of driving surrounded by others who lack spacial awareness of the cars around them. It was a really bad idea letting me drive through Dallas (never again). We made it to Houston around 4 pm that day, just missing rush hour traffic! I can’t imagine what rush hour would be like in that city though, as normal traffic resembled rush hour in OKC. Porsches, BMWs, and Range Rovers managed to switch lanes with ease, all without glancing over their shoulder or using a blinker. I’m not kidding… the drivers terrified both us.

My glasses fogged as we exited to car to carry our bags into the fanciest La Quinta I’ve ever seen and when walking from the car to California Pizza Kitchen for our date night. Afterwards, we made our way to a Whole Foods across the street, whose newly installed glass floor to ceiling windows sparkled in the setting sun, only to realize we had been trolled. It wasn’t open yet. Instead, we visited a fresh market a block away and enjoyed some yummy, though crazy sweet, gelato. We spent the rest of the night watching TV in the hotel room and resting for the next day when I would have my VISA interview. 

I woke up bright and early the next morning to get ready before persuading Austin to finally get up for breakfast. My heart began to race and my throat closed a little in the room afterwards when I realized, while gathering my papers, I had forgotten to make copies of 4 documents. With only 30 minutes left until my interview, I was extremely relieved when the lovely workers at the desk made copies for me. La Quinta - Galleria for the win!

We arrived at the consulate 20 minutes early and Austin dropped me off while he headed to find parking. Seated in the VISA office I panicked when I saw a sign instructing me to leave my printed reservation at the window. I didn’t print my reservation! I reassured myself though by remembering that the website explicitly stated that you could show up without one. “Breathe in, breathe out" I repeated to myself while waiting. The guy who was seated when I entered was quickly speaking in French to one of the interviewers. Shit! Do I need to speak in French? I haven’t prepared for this. A few minutes later a guy entered and accidentally hit a picture frame with his head when he leaned back in his seat. We laughed and I learned he was from New Orleans just as a woman called me over to be interviewed. Here we go. 

The interview was so easy compared to what I assumed it would be. She took the papers I brought, asked me what I would be doing in France, where I would be going, for how long, took my picture and it was done. The entire interview took around 20 minutes and since we began earlier than my 11 o'clock appointment, I was finished and out the door by 11:05. Just in time for Austin to walk in after finally finding a parking spot. Oops!

As we walked back to the car, we laughed at the Rolls-Royce/Bentley dealership behind the consulate. Saying the area was ritzy would be an understatement. In every intersection with Post Oak Boulevard hung a chrome halo. Even the street posts that held the lights were chrome!

After the interview, we killed some time at an Arboretum nearby before meeting up with one of Austin’s many family members scattered throughout the country. Then we grabbed lunch at an awesome hole-in-the-wall barbecue place and began the drive to Sherman where we met my family for dinner before heading back to OKC. 

Overall, it was a nice though slightly stressful break from the everyday. I think I’ve skipped the excited-phase though and transitioned into nerves and anxiety. But I’ve found that mostly good things come from facing your fears… I’ll report back on that assumption in a few weeks!

Regan Shorter

42000 Saint-Etienne

Regan is a freelance photographer and travel blogger.