Monday, January 30, 2012

Dear Houston:

You are one of the most underrated cities in America. Yes, you are full of ozone warnings, concrete, traffic, oil people, inordinate wealth juxtaposed with abject poverty, and aggressive drivers, but you have been an amazing home to me for nine years of my life.

And what a nine years those have been. I moved here to be part of the educational reform movement for economically disadvantaged children at KIPP, I met my husband at the Astrodome while we were tutoring evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, we bought our first home in the historic Heights just north of downtown, we harbored chickens illegally in our backyard, and we welcomed little Henry into the world.

And throughout those nine years, you have proven to be a magically eclectic and interesting city. You are an international city that welcomes people from all over the world (and you have the food to prove it). You are the city that has an international quilting festival one weekend and the international tatoo convention the next. You build eco-friendly parks and host free yoga classes, films on the lawn, and concerts on the hill. You have a burgeoning food truck culture, providing delicious and creative fare at random places. You have a country store store smack dab in the middle of the city that is part petting zoo, part garden, and part feed store. You have no zoning laws, which makes for an incredibly unpredictable and exciting landscape. There's an elementary school; there's Zone d'Erotica.

You host events like arts fundraisers that require everyone to dress up like clowns. You offer inexpensive boats to rent for parties on the bayou. Down there, you can't even tell you're in the city of concrete and traffic. You just see the banks of the bayou and bats. You also offer segway tours along the bayou paths and into downtown.

You provide year-round sunshine, and I can run around the 3-mile, tree-lined path at Memorial Park in shorts even in January. I can pretend I'm in the middle of the forest at the Arboretum. The museums are all free on Thursday nights, and I can always find an amazing place to eat.

I can easily get out of Houston on a non-stop flight or in a car-ride to the Hill Country, Galveston, or Louisiana.

You even have public Montessori options in your school district.

You are a glorious city, dear Houston. I will continue to be your enthusiastic advocate and supporter.

With gratitude,

Today on 2000 Dollar Wedding: Coming up with the budget for Henry's 1st birthday.

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Amanda @ Click. The Good News said...

Hear hear! I totally a native, I didn't really appreciate the city growing up here, but now I embrace its fabulous-ness and can't get into the city enough :)

Carrie said...

I love you, too, Houston! You also offer fantastic margaritas, best friends and I have never been in as good a shape in my entire life as when I ran Memorial park 6 out of 7 days/week! I sing the praises of Houston whenever the topic arises! :-)

NYCer said...

Well said! I lived in Houston for college and it is hard to convey to people who have never been to Texas why Houston is an interesting place to spend a few years.

Amy Harrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Harrison said...

I must hear more about these food trucks! My husband has been dreaming of opening one (here in Ontario, Canada) and has only books and recipes to show for it so far. Have any been featured on that Food Network show about food trucks?

Sara E. Cotner said...

Amy! You should come stay with us and do research in The City of Food Trucks (Austin, TX). We have an extra bedroom now! Food trucks are awesome.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard this many people be positive about Houston. Haha! Y'all must live in the few nice areas.

As someone who grew up there, I tell people to avoid it. Even Johnson Space Center isn't really worth seeing anymore.

Where I grew up was surrounded by trees, then in high school, all those trees were knocked down so the area could be paved over and strip centers put up. You can't even walk in the area I'm from, there's so little shoulder on the road you'd be putting yourself in danger. And now the city floods like crazy because it's pretty much capped in concrete. It's disgusting where I grew up now. I live near LA and the traffic and drivers are way worse in Houston. The smoggy days are a bit worse here, but at least when it isn't there are gorgeous mountains to look at and the beaches don't smell disgusting.

If you like Houston, you will be so much happier in Austin where there are actually local stores and restaurants and there's scenery and people who go outside. (Though the highways are some of the stupidest I've ever driven on.)

Amy Harrison said...

how much would I LOVE that? I will start saving money for a research trip now :-)

Catfish said...

I never understand when people say there are no trees in Houston! It's so green.

And the traffic is even worse in Austin. Houston, you are quite lovely. I totally agree.

Anthropolochic said...

Hi Sara,

I'm super-excited for your upcoming posts on Austin and surroundings. Best wishes for your move.

I'll likely be leaving NYC soon and have had some trouble saying good bye. Your note has inspired me. I think I might write a nice little love letter to my city before I leave. It's a sweet way to acknowledge the role a city and its people have had in making you who you are.

Angie C said...

Dear Sara,

Your neighbors miss you.

Love, Houston

Sara E. Cotner said...

Aww, Angie. I haven't walked for the past two days because I can't find a place as close and cool as the Heights trail. Can you believe it? I mean, I live in AUSTIN! You think finding a good walking trail would be a piece of cake.

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