When I moved to Austin in the spring of 2007, I had no idea I would still be here seven years later. Since college, I had never lived anywhere for more than a year or two. I moved here for a number of reasons, but at the end of day, the only reason that still matters is that Austin offered me the opportunity and proper environment to start a new business. Had I known that we were about to go head-on into a global recession, I probably never would have left my job to start a new venture. But somehow, Austin seemed to exist in its own little economy, sheltered from the recession by some unknown force, boasting some of the lowest unemployment rates anywhere in the U.S. Even today, with home prices down all over the country, Austin seems to somehow be in the middle of a housing boom. But even for all those reasons, I think what is most appealing about Austin is the fact that it is just a six hour drive home to South Louisiana. I didn’t place much emphasis on it in my younger years, but as I have gotten older, I have started to realize the importance of family.
I had seen Raymond before, perched in his wheelchair behind tables of hand blown glassware, explaining to potential customers the intricacies and nuances of all the different types of glass he had to offer. On this day, his son and business partner, Nathan, sat off about ten feet away, tending to some paperwork. Having been a U.S. Marine, and having traveled all over the world, Raymond said he always returned home to Austin. He talked about many things, but became very serious when talking about the existence of God. He has no doubt that God is real. He didn’t have much to say about religion, just that God was very real. When I asked him how he was so sure, he told me a story of how he was shot in the head defending his home and family in a burglary some years ago. He was pronounced dead and left unattended for about 45 minutes, in which time he says he came to know the truth, and in which time he decided he wasn’t ready to die. Nathan was young, and Raymond was a single parent. He said you can tell your children till your blue in the face the difference between right and wrong, but the only way to truly teach them is to show them. And so Raymond decided that there was a lot he still needed to show his son. As Raymond lay there apparently lifeless, a nurse was asking a patient next to him if she needed assistance, and at that, Raymond lifted his hand and said, “I could use some help over here.” And it looks as though Raymond held up his end of the deal. I only talked to Nathan a little, but from what I could tell, he had a definite respect for life, and a deep connection with his father.
I feel lucky to live only six hours from home.