Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the trailers are gone

when we moved to the austin suburb of Cedar Park seven years ago, it was much smaller. the official population in 2000 was 26,049; in july 2006 it was 52,058. i'm no math whiz, but that seems like cedar park pretty close to doubled in six years. there were fewer streets and fewer people and fewer stores and fewer schools and fewer parks and fewer cars and fewer houses and fewer wal-marts and drugstores and fast-food restaurants and doctors' offices.

when we moved here, there were a couple of old trailer houses facing the big road that connects our part of cedar park to highway 183. they were ugly. all bunched up together. they'd been there a long time, obviously. as the years passed, one field next to them was turned into a gym, and another into an office park, and another into a shopping center. a starbucks. a baskin-robbins. but the trailer houses stayed, hunkered down in some scrub trees, with their shitty porches and gravel driveways.

i drove by today; the trailers are gone. the austin community college campus next door is now building a big parking lot where those trailers used to be.

i'm sad. and feel weird. because there are now fewer trees. and fewer open fields. and fewer birds and fewer deer and fewer cacti and fewer ranches and fewer farmhouses and fewer country folks and fewer places to be quiet. now there are more televisions. more telephone poles. more electric light bulbs. more trash.

i love, love, love austin. it's creative, and funky, and weird, and there are parks and lakes and beautiful buildings, and artists, and musicians, a laid-back atmosphere, and a kind of sweetness. and austin is very "green" in that it's a very environmentally proactive.

but as of the 2007 U.S. Census estimate, in austin alone, not counting the greater austin area, which includes cedar park, there are 743,074 people. add Leander and Cedar Park and Westlake and Bastrop and Del Valle Round Rock and Pflugerville and others i'm forgetting, and you're at about 1.6 million people. austin grew about 28% between 2000 and 2007.

i love austin. i don't ever want to live anywhere else. i love the people here. and i love that it's a dynamic, growing, exciting city.

but that's a lot more televisions and streets and houses and stores. and a lot fewer trees and farms and animals.

and part of that is my fault. cuz i live here. and i drive my truck here. and my wife drives our minivan here. and we didn't build a new house; we live in one that was about eight years old when we moved in. (the folks at the back end of the neighborhood told us that behind them back then was a cow pasture, and a calf wandered into their yard.) but we contribute to the landfill. and we shop in the new malls and stores and eat in the new restaurants and send our kids to the new schools and buy gas in the new service stations.

i'm sad that the trailers are gone. yeah, they were ugly. yeah, their time was over. but they were like the farms, and the open spaces, and the wild spaces, and the scrubby trees, and the big live oaks that have been growing here since before white people came West. i love farms. i love trees. i love places where people aren't. and i am supporting the trailers' and the trees' extinction.


Chiron' said...

I feel you brother.

This has been the single biggest adjustment that I have had to make since coming home. I had to get past my anger at the out of state immigrants who come here and then treat us like we are in THEIR way. Austin has been my home. My Anchor while traveling the world. My secret glen.

Now, I have come to the conclusion that I simply cannot protect Austin from the saturation of those who come here to repeat the failure of their "experiment" from whence they came. Not only do they not seem to realize that they are just repeating something that didn't work which eventually caused them to move HERE, but they seem to have zero conscious about what they are doing to the land and people and culture that was here before they got here.

So now, I have been working on INTERNALIZING my Austin. I will selectively see Austin through the filter of my own denial, and see it as it was long ago. I will do this in an attempt to maintain the ENERGY of Austin. I will spread my vision of Austin to others and eventually, those who cannot see Austin as I see it....WILL. Call it an energy virus LOL, but whatever it takes. Eventually, as the population levels off again, (and it will) we will absorb these newbies and melt their brains oops! ahem, I mean "convert them to our way of thinking". Then we will have a much bigger Austin, but it will be AUSTIN....again, and not some racetrack/litterbox for those who do not care for her.

Plant a tree. Plant a flower. Feed a squirrel. Fight a parking lot. Dress questionably. Love.


Rick Diamond said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "Plug"
Drive by sometime for the TOUR!

Rick Diamond said...

RICOSHEAY ... where are you and what did i plug? (i pulled every image i could find of cool austin things...)

nonprofitprophet said...

I have nothing witty or wise to say in response. Progress - i guess. But I'm glad YOU are there so I CAN come VISIT!!! ~npp

Twisted Christian said...

Kinda reminds me of the bumper stickers I've seen just down the street from my house on the south-east side that say "Keep East Austin Sh*tty".

Doin' my part.

- TC

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment; it seems like you drive down a street and something new is there.

But you can still find old Austin here and there.

There are still crappy trailers behind the CPHS with the goats and peacocks.

The quarry is still there for a bit longer.

You can walk up the San Grabriel and see dinosaur tracks.

SOCO is still wierd

And your still here, you NUT.

Bible stadium still rocks and are you ready for some Twolf football?

Rick Diamond said...

you're right ... you're here ... i'm here ... i'd say austin's still wild!