Thursday, September 16, 2010

Four days and five nights in Houston

Magazine Street, New Orleans.  I haven't seen anything like this in Houston.  I've seen plenty of Chili's outlets though.
I'm headed home tomorrow afternoon.  It's not soon enough.  Nothing against Houston but it isn't for me.  I've never lived anywhere that is so brand-spanking new and spread out.  Blocks of architecturally unimaginative apartment complexes are punctuated by strip malls and glass office buildings.  Houston architects must all subscribe to the same copyright-free newsletter.  Either that or they got their degrees from a correspondence school.

I've got nothing against the 600-odd square miles that make up Houston.  The city just doesn't charm me.  This is not a coquettish place.  I have no desire to return any time sooner or later.  God bless the people who call this place home.

Everyone complains about the heat.  I've seen people drive a hundred yards to have lunch.  I walk during my lunch hour.  I travelled two miles today in a suit.  Based on the reaction when I returned you would think I walked to the Gulf of Mexico and back.  I have no idea how far I am from the Gulf.  The landscape is generic and without anything I would call a landmark unless you count the Home Depot between my hotel and where I spend nine hours a day watching power point presentations.  It seems to be a city in which imagination slumbers due to boredom.  I know I said I have nothing against Houston.  Let's think of this as a non-judgemental, subjective observation.

People complain of the heat.  As a New Englander from birth, I eat dinner on restaurant patios and the wait staff comments, "You must not mind the heat."  If it's not snowing I'm going to be outside.  The heat is nothing compared to the New Orleans summer I just spent the last three months enjoying.

I'll be happy to be back in New Orleans where places stay open late, the music isn't all pop pap piped over the juke box, where food isn't made in a New Jersey factory and then trucked a few thousand miles for reheating in a chain, commercial kitchen by "chefs" specifically trained in the arts of the convection and microwave ovens.

Ah well, no use crying over a less-than-stellar week.  Looking at the bright side, I have confirmed in my mind that I made the right choice to move from Boston to New Orleans.  I am happy in New Orleans, ecstatic really.  I doubt I would be able to same the same thing after living three months in Houston.  One week in Houston makes me appreciate the three years I spent in Dorchester (Boston's biggest and best neighborhood) which seems like it passed in the blink of an eye compared to this past Sunday night and now.


Anita said...

I've been full of sympathy for your plight this week. Houston is concrete sameness, just as you describe. The horror is that you could try a part of town a mile away and it would still be the same, two miles, three, all the way out of town. Ghastly.

Hurry home!

Whalehead King said...

Thanks, Anita. It's not bad, I suppose, for a lot of people but there is no way this is for me. I've met my share of glassy-eyed New Orleanians in the wee hours and they are full of life, curiosity, and verve. I've met some friendly people in broad daylight in Houston and I'll let you draw your own general comparison between a citizen of New Orleans and one of Houston based on what that observation.

My lips aren't sealed but I'm not offering my opinion aloud. Please: no offended comments from Houstonians. I have only taken a selective sample of Texans based on limited access. I'm sure there is more available than I've encountered. I just wish I could walk there. Every bartender and waitress has been professional and, after four days, a joy to greet again and chitchat with at day's end.

The sun will come out tomorrow...only a day away.


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