It seems just like yesterday when I was walking down the sidewalk of my hometown dodging kids on bikes, American flags hanging from store fronts and plugging my ears from the sound of old farm tractors roaring through the blinking red light that was the center of town.
Now as I walk down the streets of my new city I’m hustled for change, sidestepping people in business suits talking into their phone with their head down, jaywalking and tripping over uneven sidewalks.
My beloved restaurant, Barney’s Kitchen, has been replaced with a Mexican food place with a name I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. My Dairy Queen has been replaced with Ben and Jerry’s and Papazonno’s Pizza has turned into a $30 Mangia pizza.
The internet is now wireless and
people get cell phone reception.
My need to travel 20 minutes to the nearest town on a two lane highway to go shopping has been replaced with the thoughts of “If I leave now I have to deal with traffic on Lamar coming back south…So if I take 35 to 51st and take Airport…” Who knew getting to a locally owned store could be so hard?
The population sign read 1,934. My apartment complex laughs at that number.
Where the moon and stars once lit my room enough where I didn’t need lights at night, the glowing red neon of a worldwide chain store now threatens my sleep at night.
After a night traveling in the back alleys of the worst neighborhood in town you could be found the next morning in your own bed, stomach bursting from Mrs. Johnston putting on one of her weekly neighborhood BBQ feeds. Walk down any dark alley here and glance over your shoulder or notice that there are people living underneath all those newspapers.
Now how about some authentic breakfast tacos at 3am? How about watching some crazy drunken ordeal on 6th street? How about waking up early or staying out a little later to watch the sunrise/sunset from the 360 bridge? How about riding a bike, walking or jogging the trails that crisscross all through this town? How about looking up and seeing giant buildings downtown? How about public transportation? How about a tour through the capitol building? How about attending a peace protest? How about some live music? How about 900 beers on tap? How about them Longhorns? How about craigslist (how did I live without it before?)? How about the opportunity to meet many new people, take more photos and live a more laid back life in a town that seemingly will support you no matter what you do?
I’ll take it. Thanks for having me Austin.