There are some windows of our lives that are more dense than others; rich with friends, activities and challenges. My late 20s was one such time for me. I worked in advertising when it was fun, lived in Malibu, had a wonderful network of varied friends and life was good! I was young, invincible, mischievious with a sparkle in my eye and had way too much energy – anything and everything was possible! We shared secrets, dreams, ambitions and imagined our lives as Paul McCartney sang in the movie, Yellow Submarine, ‘will you still need me………..when I’m 64’! Getting old wasn’t a reality and so, so hard to imagine.
But we all know life isn’t static, but a constant whirlwind. People relocate, change careers, get married, have children – the busyness continues but in a different direction. I moved to Mill Valley, didn’t work and embraced my new surroundings with vigour. I went back to LA, I think, once. It was no longer on my radar as there were so many other destinations to explore. Eventually I lost touch with most of that era only keeping in touch with a few friends and their news in the annual Christmas card.
Then came the ‘in your face’ electronic age. Email and social networks were abundant and I was able to instantly reconnect via Facebook with many MIA friends and a more frequent connection with the others. If for only this reason, I love Facebook – nobody would have been MIA if this medium were available years ago. This and email are such an easy and unobtrusive way of staying in touch.
Why is this entitled Austin, you ask? I decided to visit one of these friends. After 30+ years I was actually going to see my friend, Mary and her husband, Richard (his website if you are looking for some great art). I didn’t have any concerns (and discovered she didn’t either) – we just picked up the face-to-face conversation where we left off those many years ago. We may not have grown old ‘together’, but we were no longer invincible yet that mischievous sparkle was still there. I loved every minute of our reunion!
Just as advertised by the media, Austin was a lovely city albeit one filled with young people. This was a constant reminder of the way we were when we had first met. As the capital of Texas, Austin is their fourth largest city and its official slogan is “The Live Music Capital of the World” and is home to the University of Texas Longhorns. It is an enclave of liberal politics in a generally conservative state. The Italian Renaissance Revival style Capitol completed in 1888 is interesting. It is mostly built of limestone and covered with PINK granite (it was constructed by convicts and migrant worker often a thousand at a time). The Colorado River is pretty and offers many outdoor venues and a wonderful setting for the city (I still don’t understand why they call part of it a lake). It is the HQ of Whole Foods and many high tech companies have offices here.
I was able to see a lot of the city and even ventured to the hip SoCo (South Congress) neighbourhood as I wanted to buy a pair of cowboy boots at Allen’s Boots. I am happy to report I was very successful! Another highlight for me was having a martini at the legendary, Driskill Hotel. The Romanesque style building was completed in 1886 by cattle baron, Col. Jesse Driskill. In more recent times, former President Lyndon Johnson had his first date with his future wife at this hotel and it became his campaign HQ for much of his career. It was here he addressed his supporters after his 1964 Presidential Election victory.