Waco is a wonderland.

That’s why my friends and I used to say, somewhat joking but also somewhat serious. When people learn I went to school in Waco, they often ask, “Hmm…how did you like Waco?”

Honestly, at first, I hated it. I was a Dallas gal stuck in a less-than-thrilling town. But the more time I spent in the 254, the more I grew to love its quirks and hidden gems, and the more I began to call it home.

I escaped the 214 yesterday for a quick trip to my college town.

My gal pal Lauren and I concluded after a long and semi-rough start to the new year, we deserved a short getaway to escape the worries and stresses of jobs and obligations and Dallas traffic. We hopped on I-35E and headed a couple hours south to my beloved home away from home.

We were only in Waco for about five hours, but we attempted to eat and drink and do the best things this quaint town had to offer.

With so many things to do in such little time, here’s what we ended up with:

  1. Common Grounds —  First thing’s first: in order to have a productive day, you have to start with a cup of Joe. This well-known treasure located right off Baylor’s campus will always be a Waco staple. I started my trip with a vanilla latte and Lauren had an iced mocha.
  2. Spice Village & Roots Boutique — Second thing’s second: once we were caffeinated, we headed to Spice for some great Waco shopping. Cute boutiques with clothes & jewelry & trinkets galore. Roots is located in the same building that also has plenty of good finds.
  3. Lula Jane’s — my very favorite Wacoan eatery, Lula’s is a garden-to-table restaurant and bakery. We munched on some chips and hummus while we downed iced tea. A wonderful midday snack.
  4. Clay Pot — also a great Waco restaurant, this Vietnamese establishment includes great food with kind service. It’s fast and reasonably priced, too!
  5. Dichotomy — As a coffee addict, I needed a drink for the road. I chose a decaf cappuccino to-go even though I would have loved to stay at my favorite local coffee shop. Chill vibes, great drinks, friendly service — you can’t go wrong with a stop by this wonderful Waco gem.

No matter how long I’m gone, Waco always feels like home to me.

Even though I’ve been back in Dallas for three years (time flies!) I had a feeling I would run into a friend or two. I ended up running into four old friends, including a former church intern, a colleague, and a couple of sorority sisters. It was so fun to bump into friendly faces and catch up in brief conversations.

I made an intentional stop to see my dear friend Julianna to hear about her life and latest adventures. It’s always so nice to hear the good, bad and in-between updates that old friends are going through. It warms my heart and nourishes my soul.

I want to be like Waco to my friends and family.

I want to be a home away from home for my friends who are hurting or lost or struggling or even for friends who are doing fine. I want them to feel like I will always welcome and love and treasure them. I want to always be in their corner, to always be a hop, skip and a jump away from wherever they are, even if they’re thousands of miles away.

Dear friend, whoever you are and wherever you are, I hope you have a Waco. I hope you have somewhere you can escape and call home and feel loved. I hope you can be a Waco, too. To encourage and love and cherish others, to open your arms widely and freely and accept those who wander.

Posted by:Maelyn Schramm

Adopted from China, I hail from Dallas and spent a few years studying in Waco at Baylor University. As a young-adult, I'm learning how to get by with little money and lots of friends. My new blog, Call Me Mae Be, focuses on the intersection of faith, daily living, travel and wellness. Join me on this life journey!

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