Yesterday, as I sat on Mopac, fuming, as one does in Mopac traffic, I spied the Frost Bank Tower. It’s now overshadowed by the higher, hipper skyscrapers, of course, but I remembered the balks and groans during its construction. “Have you viewed the monstrosity? You can’t see UT anymore! It doesn’t fit. It’s hideous. It’s ruining the skyline.”
Remembering made me giggle. How quaint we were, complaining about a well-planned, architecturally interesting, beautiful town addition built wondrously of glass. Then again, it was a simpler time. A moment in our history when there was only one big change happening, rather than hundreds. And for the most part, I’m okay with New Austin. I like change. I like meeting new transplants from Brooklyn, and yes, even California, standing in line at Wheatsville buying cold Topo Chicos like proper Texans should.
Still fuming on Mopac, I fought to get home, recalling that I needed to reserve a day at the Blue Hole before it’s booked the entire summer (of course, I’ll be too late). But rolling by, the Frost Bank Tower sat in peace, its beauty scratching the big Texas sky.
People now say, dripping with nostalgia, it reminds them of an authentic Austin landmark. Or that it reminds them of Superman, a shard of kryptonite right in our own hometown. But to me, it’s ripped straight from the pages of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
As the cars honk and weave around me, angry because everyone’s going to miss the Blue Hole sitting on Mopac all summer, I imagine Willie Wonka’s glass elevator bursting through the top of Frost Bank’s ceiling. The glass shatters with bravado. Charlie and Grampa Joe fly over Town Lake, dangling from the sky in their glass elevator. And I hear Mr. Wilder singing from the movie:
Come with me, and you’ll see,
in a land of pure imagination…
A little imagination is all we need to survive change. Let’s dream of weird skyscrapers, glass cars running on candy fumes on empty highways, childhood magic and golden tickets.
And a life completely devoid of Mopac.
Cate Berry is an Austin-based children’s book author and mother of two. She also teaches writing workshops for young people at cateberry.com