Last Saturday, I met my friend, Tom, for brunch in Austin. We tried out a new place down on 3rd Street, hanging out over Shoal Creek. After the meal, we walked along the shore of Lady Bird Johnson Lake (which I still remember as Town Lake). My, how Austin has changed in the dozen years I've been gone!
During the 20 years I lived there, numerous building booms occurred; but, nothing like the current crop. Everywhere you turned, there were changes. Whether up and down Congress Avenue, or along the shores of the lake, there were whole new areas of development that had not existed a decade ago.
One of the odd things about returning to a place that you lived is how you are able to see it through different eyes. As I navigated about the city, I was surprised to realize how narrow many of the streets were. Having lived in Mason for a while, I take our broad streets for granted, and was a bit rattled by having to dodge vehicles on neighborhood streets in Austin.
I was also a bit rattled by the fact that some streets no longer went where they once did, and that entire city blocks either had nothing where once there were buildings; or, there were skyscrapers where once there were parking lots. Even my GPS, updated with all of the "latest" street updates, had trouble keeping up with some of Austin's latest changes.
I lived in Austin for so long, I thought I would have no problem remembering my way about town. I'm grateful that Tom did most of the driving so that I didn't end up turning down the wrong streets or taking exits that no longer go anywhere. I actually rather enjoyed being driven around, as it gave me the opportunity to gawk at the new parks, buildings, bridges, artwork,,, just about everything was worth taking a second look.
When I left Austin in the mid 1990s, it was in the middle of growing pains. It had repeatedly started various projects, which would then founder for a while before being dropped. It seemed the city could never quite make up its mind if it wanted to grown up or not.
But, like most things in life, growing up is inevitable. The city that had 350,000 people when I lived there in the 80s now has almost 750,000. The freeway projects that languished for years are now being completed. The downtown developments that planners hope will bring people back into the inner city are no longer just on the drawing boards, they are being completed.
I know it's not just Austin. Travel to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Midland or San Angelo and you will see the same thing happening. After years of pretending that Texas will grow slowly, we have all had to admit that we just may be the next destination for those hoping for new opportunities. The jobs may not have caught up to the demand; but, people are placing their faith in the future potential of our great state and they are making the leap.
Even in Mason County, growth is occurring, though at a more subtle pace. There are people moving into the area and pinning their hopes and dreams on the possibilities of success and happiness.
After my brief trip to Austin, and seeing how well my old second home has grown up, I know it truly is possible. There are MANY challenges, and MANY trials along the way. But, this is Texas, and it appears folks are finding a way to make their dreams a reality.
It’s all just my opinion.