All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

Home Sweet Houston

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Houston will always be my home.  The more I remember it, the more my heart desires to be there.  The more times I return to visit, the harder it is to leave.

Houston Skyline from Allen Park

Most people don’t appreciate Houston.  They only think of the high heat and humidity or maybe the ferocious mosquitoes.  But they lack knowledge of the culture to be found there.

Growing up, there were several peculiarities only associated with Houston.  (We pronounce it “U-stun” unless in the presence of Yankees or grammarians, in which we’ll make an honest effort to pronounce that subtle “H”).  At five years of age, I distinctly remember swimming in my street.  Not at some neighbor’s pool, but in the Alician flood waters on our residential street.  Next to copper heads and your every day variety of garden snakes and toads and with no regard to the fact that mosquitoes were viciously lying eggs to hatch in a few days.

I collected toads, completely unaware that Houston actually has its own species (the Houston Toad bufo houstonensis).  It always hurt a bit to see them flattened in the street.  No wonder they are endangered!  I loved petting their dry, bumpy backs, just to be rewarded with a little frog urine on my hand.  I also tried to collect those tiny little tree frogs that seem to be in abundance after a good, hard rain.

Galveston is a very nice place to visit with all of its history, but it never produced a wave worth surfing in my entire life.  So we’d hill surf, instead, at one of the bigger hills in the area, Allen Park, right under that famous Houston skyline.

And as I got older, I’d spend countless hours flirting with local guys while stuck on the Richmond drag in traffic intended to come to a crawl just for such purposes.  A few good friendships came out of chance meetings on that strip with everlasting memories.

And how many nights did I spend in quiet meditation trying to get a little lost in the Arboretum’s trails or sitting in solitude at a small pocket park a stone’s throw away from the Enron headquarters?  As your driving around downtown Houston, nothing compares to the sights, sounds and scent (yes, scent) of it.  Careful not to take a whiff of it while you’re walking, apparently, men find that the concrete sides of skyscrapers make for excellent urinals at night.

After a rainy day, there was a familiar comfort with having to crank on the car’s A/C just to defog the windows.  Or late night trips at the last-minute to Galveston with friends to fish off the walk-on piers, singing along to the Violent Femmes at the top of our lungs.  Or maybe joining a crowd of friends at the local IHOP or Denny’s (both are equally as popular), the Waffle House, or my personal favorite, the House of Pies, at 2 a.m. for a cup of joe.  (Many friendships formed at those places, too.)  Or on a lazy Sunday, maybe watching my guy friends try to learn how to skateboard on the bayou walls.

I could go on and on about my nostalgia of Houston.  The one thing I note about Houston is that I meet a lot of people there who are actually from there.  Not that they haven’t been elsewhere.  They actually choose to return.  Like me, hopefully.  Where I live now (Austin), I rarely meet anyone born and raised here. They all seem to come for college and never leave.  Or maybe for a concert.  Where are the natives? 

Not that staying in Austin is bad—as long as we’re all in Texas, we’re all on a happy ship.  Well, an exception may be made for Dallas.  (Houstonians are born with an innate hatred of all things Dallas.  Let’s just say that Dallas looks to the nation, particularly the East Coast, for approval.  Houston makes its own rules, in true Texan tradition.  But that’s another topic for another blog.)


Written by Written Straw

June 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Life

Tagged with , ,

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