When I first moved to Houston and started writing this column, one of the comments that I received in response to my "Life in a Pink Bubble" story pooh-poohed my rose-colored glasses view of life in my newly adopted town. I was told that after living here for a while, I would feel differently.
Well, I am happy to report that this is most definitely not the case. How can you not love a city that has a Ferris wheel right in the heart of downtown, visible from the freeway? That has the absolute best food ever? That has shopping options to appeal to anyone, that's close to a beach . . . my list goes on and on.
Hurrah! We are firmly settled into a new house inside the Loop at long last. And since the jumbo move-in from the suburbs, I've had time to really check out my eclectic neighborhood, Rice Military. I have yet to come across anything that looks like a former military base, but lots of other cool things are found at every turn, with new ones popping up every day.
So many that I've made a list of things I love about the new place.
1. Location, Location, Location
I can get to nearly any place in record time from my house. No more adding a full hour to get into the city from the land of suburbia. This is a glorious feeling and anyone who has done their time in a soul-crushing commute can relate.
To get to my fantastic new job: 15 minutes. To get to my favorite restaurant: 15 minutes. To pop over to the Galleria: 15 minutes. To take in a play: 15 minutes. Heavenly!
2. People Watching
Since the properties around me are mostly three-story deals with garages, people basically drive into their homes and vanish. But a walk or drive around the area will highlight the diversity of our neighborhood: Singles, couples young and old, some families, artists, business people, you name it.
Having come from a city full of zoning restrictions, this is a new world. I now live near a bike shop, lawyers' offices, a Mexican craft store, a bar, a larger office building, a tortilla shop, a small factory of sorts, several art galleries, a giant red rooster, the famous Beer Can House and what appears to be a pair of silos taken from a grain factory and placed in front of a someone's home.
Truly sights not found in our former suburban neighborhood.
3. Memorial Park
Now a perfect five minute walk away. How I love this place! My wonderful, fabulous boyfriend introduced me to the park during my first visit to Houston and it was love at first sight.
Last summer, like everyone else, I watched with an increasing sense of dread as the trees began to shrivel up and die. The park is forever changed now as the clearing process continues, but I know that plans are in place to move forward and make the best of the aftermath of the terrible drought.
In addition to the city’s efforts, groups like Trees for Houston are doing their best to replant the park. Now when I go to the park and see the trees that survived, I feel like giving them a high-five.
This has been tricky, as the boyfriend has defined tastes and a strong sense of what he likes and what he doesn’t. As we set up our new place, it became very apparent that our tastes are not necessarily the same.
He prefers a more traditional type of decor than I do, and since he had virtually all of the furnishings while mine languish in storage back in Nashville, I have had to adjust to a more conservative look.
A visit from my family brought a few key pieces which I have incorporated into the look, and I'm now scouting out places all over Houston to continue the decorating process. Barbara Kuntz at CultureMap recommended High Fashion Home, and while my bank account has not benefited from my love of this fantastic store, I never leave there without finding something perfect for my home.
5. Going to the Dogs
I love dogs, but due to our schedules we can’t take on a pup at this time. Lil’ Daisy who flew with me when I moved from Nashville to Houston, is now enjoying “retirement” with my family in the countryside of Tennessee. Fortunately, I can check out the daily dog parade that takes place virtually anytime I head outside.
Now that summer is here, I have no doubt that many new sights, sounds, and people are about to come my way as I learn more about my new surroundings and my adopted city. I feel certain my love of H-Town is here to stay.
What is your favorite part of Houston in the summer?