Our Journey to Living in a Downtown Austin Apartment

I tend to be (in case you haven’t noticed) pretty passionate about ALL.THE.ADVENTUROUS.THINGS, especially when it comes to this one. Here is the story of how we went from being home bodies in the Panhandle to living in a downtown Austin apartment. Y’all. Even as I write those words, I’m amazed.

The Meeting

My husband and I met in college, he, a sophomore transfer student, and I, a well-adjusted hometown girl who knew exactly what she wanted to do in life. Actually, I only knew partly what I wanted to do, but I felt that I was getting closer to my destiny every single time I changed my major.

When a handsome unknown showed up in the serving line for free lunch at my favorite student union building, I was already in my place, cheerily spooning up beannie wiennies to all the familiar faces.

“You should come to the skating party next week,” said I to the new guy.

(Dear Millennials – skating parties were a regular occurrence on our dating scene back in the day. They served no real purpose because no one was good enough for it to be called exercise, and injuries were common when the skates tangled into our bellbottomed jeans. Nevertheless, skating parties were a thing, and we went to a whole bunch of ’em.)

“Ok, I’ll be there,” said the new guy to the girl who now knew a little more of what she wanted to do in life.

The Plan

Seven months later, we were gleefully married, living on love and making all kinds of plans that mostly included a couple of acres, a barn and a lush garden. I envisioned that our life would closely resemble a Saturday morning episode of Pioneer Woman.  While I watched from the kitchen window, my man and our several (?) children would rope cows and work up their appetites for the homemade biscuits and  steaming hot sausage gravy I was rustling up to feed them.

The Dream

We also dreamed a little. We wondered what life might be like if we were ever in our long legged lives brave enough to venture out. Both of us were born and raised in the Texas panhandle, and we absolutely loved it. However, when Money Magazine started publishing a yearly issue of the 300 Best Places to Live, we got a copy and thumbed through that thing for hours. Side by side on the couch my grandmother gave us, we flipped through slick pages and peered at colorful pictures of faraway neighborhoods in places like Madison, Wisconsin and Sherwood, Oregon.

(Dear Millennials – this was before the days of  “let’s Google that.”)

The Life

Our real life went on, and it was a good one.  While we finished college, we both worked for Kelly Girl, then got permanent jobs, bought our first home and started planting of our roots.  We had kids, climbed the corporate ladder, raised teenagers, pulled our hair out, gained weight, got promotions, endured mergers, moved nine times, built a barn, and we planted our dream garden during a drought.

We also laughed, loved, made friends, sat with our parents at church, decorated for Christmas, took trips and greatly enjoyed our kids. Complaints? None. Blessings? Still counting.

The Constants

When we moved to Amarillo from Lubbock, we bought a house we just loved, and it had the most inviting front porch. We made an uncharacteristic decision to pay a professional to make it even prettier with big flower pots, full of color and life, and wow, what a difference a professional makes. Those pots were stunning. They grew and they thrived, and they were such a blessing. On the day that those luxurious pots were lovingly placed in their spots on the porch, the professional said I would need to do two things to keep them alive and thriving: (a) give them a little drink every day and (b) deadhead the blooms.

Those flowers were so symbolic of the life we had grown to love. In every place we lived, we received enough nourishment to establish roots and enough pruning to blossom forth.

The Adventure

And then, Austin! Wow, what an adventure it is has been to move to the Capital City of the Lone Star State. No more familiar anything, but a whole lot of exciting everything. The scenery. The water. The food. Moving from Amarillo to Austin was the biggest adventure yet, as we suddenly realized we were living in one of the places we had only read about in those magazines.

The Nudge

Our one child left under our roof was a trooper and made the most of moving with us. We let him choose which high school to attend, and he picked a great one. We leased a townhome for 18 months, just a few blocks from the school, and we planned to buy a house after that. The townhome was in a great spot, a quaint gated community, close to shopping, and only a 17-mile drive to downtown for work. In Amarillo, that took 20 minutes. In Austin, during rush hour, it can take an hour an a half!

So, after Keagon graduated and went to college, Mike started nudging me to think about not buying a house, but moving downtown. To an apartment. Hmmm. That was a great idea he had, but when we started looking at apartments, they seemed so small! We had already downsized for the townhome. How would I downsize our stuff again this much more? Could I part with my dining room table to eat side by side on barstools? And good grief – it was so expensive. How was that going to work?

The Stretch

One day while eating our lunches side by side on a Brazos Street park bench, I told Mike I had had enough. We had looked and we hadn’t found.  I simply couldn’t part with my dining table, and no place had a two bedroom apartment we could afford that had room for it. We would stay where we were and revisit the house-buying decision when our lease was up. Ok, he said, and he agreed. Let’s walk over to The Whitley and make sure something hasn’t come available that fits “the table”, and if not, then we’ll call it good.

“Well, remember that unit you guys liked that had room for your table that we saw the first time you were in here a year ago?” asked the friendly leasing agent? “It’s available now.”

The Space

The table fit, and so did everything else that was really important, including my Grandmommy’s Franciscan dishes. It’s amazing what all you can live happily without. We have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a Kitchen-aid mixer, and all the books I just couldn’t let go of. This place is bigger than our first apartment, and it’s as cozy as can be.

We go down to the coffee machine in the lobby for our morning java, and we host our LifeGroup in the conference room on the first floor. We read on our iPads by the pool in the dark of early morning and enjoy long walks around Lady Bird Lake. Our cars are parked in the garage, and half the time we don’t remember on which floor. We meet our neighbors in the elevator, and we sometimes eat our dinner on our small balcony. When the kids are all here, we bunk ’em on the couch and across the street at a hotel. It’s Austin, and nobody stays inside that much anyway.

The Joy 

Since I first started writing this blog, every word has pointed to the importance of intentional adventure for those of us who have reached the BIG 5-0. From trying a new restaurant to ziplining over Lake Travis to giving church another chance, I write specifically to encourage my very own peeps to do adventurous things that, well, keep us wanting to do things.

I also write to let people know that when you follow God, he’ll take you places you never dreamed you’d go. Our life has never been dull! God has been so faithful to hold our hands through the down times and has given us so much joy to celebrate the good ones.

The End

After two years and two months, our downtown journey has come to an end. What an incredible time this has been. I’ll be forever grateful to my man for nudging me to do it, and I’ll be forever amazed that we actually took such a crazy plunge.

From Amarillo to Austin, and now from downtown to an apartment further south, we’re set for another adventurous chapter in this earthly existence called LIFE.

We’re moving soon!!! It’s time to cut costs and move a little further out, so here we go again! Head ’em up, move ’em out, pardners! Do you think I’ll get to take all my books?

Home Bodies to Apartment Dwellers - Our Journey to Living Downtown in Austin

One of the best parts of living downtown is having a Royal Blue Grocery right outside your front door!

Stay tuned, my Over Fifty friends! There’s so much more to come.

Encouraging intentional adventure, one chapter after another, with joy and thanksgiving,

PS: Have you signed up to receive my weekly newsletter? If not, you can do it right here!

brenda

Hi, there! My name is Brenda McDearmon. I created this blog for the sole purpose of encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, whether that's trying a new restaurant, enjoying a day trip in the Texas Hill Country, or being adventurously inspired in a spiritual way. Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure and sign up to receive my weekly newsletter. It's one of my favorite ways to connect with my readers! Your devoted encourager, Brenda

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