This morning I'm thinking about time, age, and change. I flew into Austin to live when I was 18, flew into Mueller Airport. I don't thinnk I knew I would stay my whole life, but I considered that really possible. My parents had gone to college in Austin, married and worked here early on, and talked about it always like the paradise on earth they always wanted to return to and wished California job hadn't tempted them to leave. I think when I imagined staying I had no idea how much a city could change in forty three years. Probably I have changed as much as the city, but that's harder to see because I know I am the same at core. I don't know if that's true of the city, but imagine it might well be. The University of Texas is still here, the Texas capital, the sense of being a progressive city in a conservative state, the more casual dress and the live music. But so much has changed.
The change was beautifully and powerfully hammered home on Wednesday when Bob took me to see a gorgeous new park and planned community on the grounds of old Mueller Airport, which was replaced by Bergstrem (a military air base not only when I came to town but when my daughters visited it on kindergarten field trips). The park is great, magnificently planned, even uses an old hanger as a stage for events. It features native plants skillfully arranged around a lovely largish pond with water features, a creative play scape Liam has already enjoyed, a beautiful communal fire pit and much more I coouldn't even take in on one short visit. It is a haven for wild birds of many kinds already and offered us views of baby pied billed grebes (my first) and my closest view ever of a glorious yellow crowned night heron in full breeding plumage. It is also a haven for the wonderfully ethnically and culturally diverse community Austin has become. I saw people of so many ethnicities, heard more languages than I could count in the heavily used park. I love what is there now at Mueller.
I also miss what is not there - the airport where I ventured into my adult life in lavender polyester minidress, having written poetry on napkins all the way from California, the airport Jeannie borrowed a colleg e friend's car to drive out to on restless spring nights so we could watch the planes take off, the airport where, at twenty, I flew into Kerry's (almost 25 years dead) waiting arms exactly like the heroine in a chick flick, with just the same kind of abandon and joy, the airport from which we proudly and nervously took our babies on their first plane trips to California to visit my parents (both a decade dead now). I look at the picture of Kerry's mother (two decades dead) looking out the airport window with two year old Joanna, both of them delighted, and that time and place seem as real as yesterday. I remember the first time I met Bob at the airport when he returned from a business trip, woman not girl, but so happy to have the love that allowed me to fly into the arms of another good man.
The old airport is not there. Obviously the memories remain.
Someday the glorious new park will not be there, or will be changed, and the young people I saw falling in love and playing with their families there will no longer be young and will have their memories.