Sunday, June 05, 2011

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.


Mary said...

so many things change over time. I can reflect on similar changes in this area. I know of shopping centers that I knew when they are knew, lived through them becoming run down, then torn down. Amazing.

And when I visit my hometown and pass my elementary school which was new the first year I attended it. It is now an 'old school,' showing its do we all.

Peggy said...

Wow does this post speak to me Victoria. I will probably have to come back and comment again. One thing that struck me some years ago when we visited a part of the mid-west was that I have always lived in places that were growing rapidly with change, big change, the norm. I was so surprised to find places that were not being filled with new housing developments, where the building of a few new homes a year was a big thing.

Your reminiscence about the airport struck home for me too. I remember when we moved to Orange County in 1963 and I was 16, the airport was one old wooden building and I recall driving out on some barely paved roads for my dad to go some place. Then there was the first new airport which was replaced again by the second new airport--John Wayne Airport a pretty major S Calif airport.

There is just no comparing the Orange County I came to as a 16 year old (and where I still live). Our city was not even a city and barely on the drawing board. The major university did not exist here. The land our city is on was a huge ranch.

Most of our freeways did not exist then. We had to drive quite far to go to a real department store. We had to drive to downtown LA for a performing arts experience. Disneyland was less than 10 years old and Disneyworld did not exist.

We are turning our old military base into a park rather than a new airport after years of public and political battle over the issue.

So much change!

Judy Roney said...

So many changes in our lives and the scenery and other's. It is continuous. I am struck with the fact that you have found two good , loving men in your lifetime. It makes me think about people who go their whole lives without someone that is good to them. We are fortunate. You have been twice blessed.