May 23, 2011


Almost two years ago, it became apparent that I was going to be moving from the East Coast to Texas. No one was more surprised by this fact than I was. Living in Texas was about as high on my list of life goals as contracting rabies. Still, I found myself packing my bags and heading for the only state with an x in its name.

My original plan was to resist the fanatical cult-like obsession most people here have with the state.

But there really is a lot to like here in Houston. Take the beef, for instance. It seems that red meat is a necessary but not sufficient means of hospitality. Everywhere you go, you can't avoid being offered steak.

Most bars here don't regularly serve food, but once a week, they will have a steak night. They just wheel out a grill and start cooking slabs of beef. It's an idea both simple and beautiful.

I have a friend who is a vegetarian, which is about the equivalent of being a communist here.
Then there are the roads. In Texas, they love their 12 lane highways. It's very common to find yourself on an overpass where at least 900 major highways are intersecting. You always feel like 8 million cars are careening into your face.

They also have feeder roads that run the entire distance of the highways, but just parallel to them. All I'd every known were on- and off-ramps. Remarkable!

It's important to note that there is a distinct country western theme here. Despite the city being very modern and metropolitan, it's still Texas. The other day, I was walking along a city street with a friend when she exclaimed:

I'm telling you, you don't have the opportunity to say that where I'm from.

To be fair, Houston is also home to the world's largest medical center (so it's a great place to study medicine or to break your leg), the second most Fortune 500 companies headquartered in a city, the most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S., one of the nation's largest shipping channels, 4 standing performing arts companies, and a vibrant arts scene.

But so what when you're home to the world's largest rodeo? The term "world's largest rodeo" is no joke. Imagine sitting in a giant arena, watching children cling desperately to the backs of sheep that are cantering through a giant pit of dirt (an event called "Mutton Busters").

 Next, you see what must be the world's largest American flag unfurl above you as troops repel from the ceiling amidst indoor fireworks.

Then, because it's Tejano night, the arena transforms into a giant stage where a popular Mexican musical group performs entirely in Spanish to a crowd that sings along to every word.

It is mind-blowingly awesome  (and around here, kinda viewed as normal - I recently mentioned how weird the rodeo is to a Houstonian friend, and he looked at me and asked, "What's weird about it?").

In Houston, there is also the issue of no-zoning. This means that virtually anything can be built anywhere.

You never know what you're going to get as you drive along.

As I mentioned before, my original idea was to resist falling in love with the great state of Texas. I am somewhat disturbed to report that despite maintaining a healthy sense of humor about this place, I haven't been entirely successful in sticking to the plan. I don't know. There's just something about standing up in the 7th inning stretch of an Astros baseball game and joining an entire stadium of fans in singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas..."

...that makes you feel at home.


David said...

Hmmm....PETA is not going to like all that Mutton Busting. Not one bit!

Anonymous said...

Boom, bitches, boom.

Camille said...

great post! I think you perfectly articulated people's LOVE for their great state. (and their nonchalance when it is noted that it's a little over the top) I first understood the depth of Texan's love for Texas a few years ago. I once worked with a Texan and one day at lunch she fell back out of her chair, hit the table and was semi-unconcious or something. anyway, the EMS people came and tried to get her to answer some questions which she didn't. My other Texan friend knew the uncounscious girl was from texas and asked, "Where is the president of the US from?" and the unconscious girl instantly said "TEXAS" with this satisfied look on her face. and after that we all chuckled. God bless Texas and the people who love it.

Nora said...

i like the way you drew the highways :)

Jordie said...

Nora: Thanks. They took forever to draw and still came out kinda cruddy, which is the exact kind of charm this blog so desperately relies on.