Kindergarten and college were the last times I lived in Austin until my son, Ames (now 13) and I relocated here in August of 2018 from Colorado. My college “town” I remember is hardly recognizable.
But its soul— the progressive politics, killer queso and BBQ, vibrant local music scene, and freedom-to-fly-your-freak-flag weirdness vibe I fell in love with is still alive and well.
I attended kindergarten at Bergstrom Air Force base (now Austin’s airport) when we were stationed here in 1967. My dad was a career military pilot, which meant we moved often throughout my childhood— Utah, England, Arizona, Virginia, Germany, South Carolina then Dallas.
When I tossed my UT graduation cap into the air and let out a final Hook ‘em Horns in 1986, I was eager to spread my wings and take off. With a job offer from Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago, I launched my career as a copywriter. I followed job opportunities at ad agencies thereafter in Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Dallas and Denver.
By the early 2000s, I was freelancing in advertising so I could travel as much as possible.
I launched a dual career as a travel writer, spending months in places like Africa, Vietnam, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Fiji, Peru, Europe and Costa Rica.
Adventure sports was my beat. White water rafting, rock climbing, scuba diving, mountain biking, trekking, sea kayaking, skiing/snowboarding, snowmobiling, bungee jumping fed my adrenaline fix and were balanced with yoga retreats, spa-cations, and immersing myself into other cultures.
When a long-term relationship with a boyfriend ended in my early 40s, I couldn’t ignore my biological clock ticking any longer. I decided to pursue motherhood solo using a sperm bank. I gave birth to my “miracle baby” after five rolls of the fertility dice at age 44 while living in Los Angeles. I poured my heart into every aspect of parenthood.
After a year of living as a single mom in LA, I caved to my mother’s offer, “Come to Dallas and I’ll help you with Ames.” While my memories of Dallas were not particularly fond in high school, I figured at a different life stage I might warm to it. My younger brother lived there and had three kids who all stair-stepped in age with Ames, just a year apart.
But my inner spark dimmed there, and I longed to live closer to nature.
As soon as Ames was potty trained, I loaded him in the car and drove to Colorado so I could job hunt. My efforts yielded an offer in Denver.
Seven years of living in Colorado was wonderful for the most part. I bought my first house. I transitioned to freelance ad work again while writing mommy n’ me travel stories. This meant lots of ski (and other snow sport) days in the winter and summers filled with mountain outdoor sports— white water rafting, stand-up paddle boarding, 4 x 4ing, paragliding, mountain biking, and hiking.
Then, my mother had a mini stroke back in Dallas and while she came out of it okay, it left her anxious about living alone. On a (2018) Mother’s Day visit to see us in Colorado, my mom asked about moving in with Ames and me. I offered to augment my staircase to make the second floor more accessible for her senior knees when she made the declaration, “I like Colorado about as much as you like Dallas, (which is to say, not at all) how about Austin?”
We both sold our homes, pooled our equity together, and bought a sandwich generation home in Austin’s Lake Travis area. All in record-breaking time. Our moving trucks arrived two days before school started.
Transitioning to a multi-generational house isn’t easy under the best of circumstances— from each of our perspectives.
Throw in opposing ardent political beliefs during such polarizing times, and the lack of filter and unlimited unsolicited advice that comes when a senior hits her 80s. Still I’d rather my mom live with us than in an assisted living facility. On most days. We’re adjusting to our new lives with a sense of humor.
The best part of the move is that Ames is thriving academically, despite a class size five times larger than his one in Colorado. Middle school is about developing more autonomy for him and me needing to park my heli-parenting chopper so he can grow.
I miss Colorado more than Ames does, but I am embracing this new adventure with open arms. Living in the hill country near Lake Travis nourishes the nature girl in me and frequent visits to downtown Austin provides the urban fix I crave to feel connected to the rest of the world. It’s the perfect location for this new chapter and I’m excited to share all about it here writing for Austin moms!
Can’t wait to hear more of your intergenerational living adventures!