• October 22, 2014

Lure of city lights inspired bright idea

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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 10:11 am, Fri May 17, 2013.

I had this great idea.

It started one night when I took a different route home from work. Rather than exiting Loop 121 in Belton like I usually do, I decided to head to I-35 instead. It was after dark, and as U.S. Highway 190 intersected with I-35, I saw the most beautiful view of city lights stretching from Belton to Temple and beyond.

The interchange is elevated and sits on a slight hill, so it’s almost like being on a scenic overlook. Unfortunately, the sight lasted mere seconds before I was on the interstate and on my way to my Sixth Street exit.

It left me wanting more.

There’s just something about city lights that makes me happy. I can’t really explain it, but they make me feel hopeful and alive, like all wonderful things of the world are just at my fingertips.

My love affair with city lights began when I was a little girl. In one of my earliest memories, I’m sitting in the back seat of our big, green Chevy Impala driving through Fort Worth at dusk. My nose pressed against the window glass, I stare out at the downtown lights. From the front seat, my mom says, “There she goes again — mesmerized by the lights.” Even at that young age —about 5 or 6 — I knew her words were true.

I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth, in a neat little tract house on the edge of town. Driving to Fort Worth or Dallas was always a treat, especially at night when the multicolored lights of downtown buildings rose from the North Texas prairie right before our eyes.

We also traveled down I-35 to visit relatives in San Antonio several times a year, so I experienced other breathtaking contrasts of dark countryside meeting brightly lit city.

I carried my love of city lights into adulthood. To this day, they never fail to amaze me and often lead me to consider things that might seem crazy or impossible in full daylight.

Hence, my great idea.

The highway department is in the process of building a new flyover from I-35 to 190. It’s not open yet and has sat there, like a giant Stonehenge, since I moved to Belton 18 months ago. The view from that flyover, which is even more elevated than the old interchange, is probably phenomenal.

As I drove to my house that night, inspired by the beautiful lights, I had the idea that perhaps I could find a way to get on the new flyover before it opens. If so, I could sneak on there at night and walk to the highest point. I’d take along a thermos of coffee, some snacks and a blanket to sit on as I enjoy the view.

Just thinking about it made my adrenalin pump — the intrigue, the sneakiness, the city lights.

When I got home, I considered telling my husband about my idea. But I imagined the conversation and realized he probably wouldn’t understand. I decided to wait until I had all the details sorted out before springing it on him.

The next day, as I headed to Killeen, I scoped out the ends of the flyover — my access points, I thought. But alas, I saw the new flyover was not yet connected with the rest of the highway. My access points loomed several hundred feet in the air. Without a crane or helicopter, my hopes for a dreamy view were dashed.

Last night, I worked late again and took the same route home from work. Entering the curve that leads to I-35, I slowed down and stared out at the bright lights. My heart leaped and my blood pumped. For mere seconds, I felt like all was right in my world. In that moment, I believed all my wishes could come true.

In that moment, I wished for wings.

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