Adventures in H-Town
Editor's note: Cathy Parsons recently moved from Music City (Nashville) to the Bayou City (Houston). In a periodic column, she will write about her new life here.
I recently had a conversation with one of my Nashville friends, who spent several years in Houston. After, I went on and on about how much I love Houston, she wrapped up my sentiments by saying, “Living in Houston is like being on a permanent vacation.”
BINGO! She had absolutely nailed one of the major reasons why I LOVE living in H-Town. It has so many elements that I associate with being on vacation ... fun people (most of whom exhibit a certain devil may care attitude), dynamite shopping, fabulous restaurants, wonderful cocktail venues with patios custom-made for people watching, fun parties, a vast array of museums and galleries, blue sunny skies (well, most of the time), dreamy palm trees, and the cherry on the sundae — a sandy beach less than an hour’s drive away.
I have become so crazy about our close proximity to the beach that we rang in the New Year in the lovely Tremont House hotel. It was an idyllic start to the continuation of my new life in Houston — a life that is so wonderful, that it feels like I am living in a lovely Pink Bubble ... sigh … :)
After I had been in Houston for a few months, I sort of expected a lessening of my love for the city. Would this be yet another passing infatuation??? Oh no, no. I silently thought to myself. But much like my relationship with RT (my super fabulous boyfriend), my love for my newly adopted city has continued to grow and deepen virtually every single day.
Example … At the moment, we are living a wee bit outside of Houston’s coveted inner Loop. And while this will change fairly soon, my current daily commute involves a picturesque drive on a mile long bridge over a lake every morning. As if on a film director’s cue, majestic white cranes always fly over the bridge to bid me good morning as I head into the city. It sounds corny and cliché, but at this point, I never fail to send a silent thanksgiving into the universe that I am at this place at this time.
I was really enjoying the whole “not working thing”, but wanted to get in the groove of being an actual real Houstonian with a real job. So to make myself feel more like I was living in Houston instead of merely vacationing, I opted to become gainfully employed.
I thought my new position would be really pleasant and allow me to branch out from my previous experiences as an advertising account executive for the city magazine of Nashville. You know, something new and different. Most of the people in my office have been very warm and welcoming to the newcomer, but there is one person who has given me serious grief for having a southern accent.
Excuse me??? I mean, come on! I mean it isn’t like Nashville is tucked away in the backwoods of the Appalachians. And isn’t Texas part of the South?! ... mmm ….
Now I know that I can turn the word “South” into three syllables, but still! Until further notice, I am sticking with this little work place challenge. Stay tuned for the next installment of my J O B experiences, but under no circumstance, will it let it bust MY Pink Bubble! Good times ...
The toilet incident
No one who has ever known me would consider me a “morning person." The very idea of getting up super early doesn’t thrill me. Never has. So imagine me waking up accidentally an hour earlier than I had to, oh say 6 a.m.-ish and encountering the following scenario. While innocently flushing a toilet, I somehow jostled the plumbing for the water pipe, which caused it to snap off at the wall.
I am not saying that the force of the water was strong, but it honestly rivaled the flow of a fireman’s hose! Yes indeedy ... as I leaned down to assess the damage, water literally erupted from the wall and practically knocked me down. In seconds, the deluge proceeded to flood our main bathroom and totally soaked any adjoining room’s carpeting.
Thankfully, RT had not yet left for work, so he immediately went into damage control mode. Even though he promptly turned off the water line in our place, the water continued to flow in, but at a much slower place, mercifully. Kudos to Artero, our maintenance man for finally getting the water completely shut off. Hopefully, the poor other residents in our building weren’t entirely blindsided by having no water for their morning routines.
Yet, somehow in spite of this nutty incident, RT continued to be his sunny confident self. (It must be all the Monster energy drinks he consumes) He sent me off to work (oh thanks…☺) and then literally moped up the mess. His Facebook posting recapped this entire incident and his main caption mentioned something about taking a towel inventory. He amazes me!
This early morning incident required a Shop-Vac, some giant fans, and the relocation of a whole bunch of furniture to the living room while the carpet got ripped out. Yet in spite of this, my Pink Bubble existence has been kept intact ... Namaste.
Now that I have spent a little more time in Houston, I have the following pointers to share with my fellow newcomers, and I also welcome additional pointers as clearly, my journey to become a true Houstonian is in its infancy:
*Networking and making friends: First of all, it is incredibly easy to do this. Just find something that really interests you and Google it for this area and then just jump in.
I adore all things film and art related. So I simply got on the e-mail lists for a passel of museums and galleries in the area and the film festivals. Done! People in Houston are just really quite amazing to be so welcoming and accepting of new people. (For this, I thank you mightily Houstonians.) Plus, the events that go along with these activities are just simply fantastic and most are tied in with very worthy causes.
*Houston and the surrounding areas as a clock dial: When I first moved here, RT explained to me that I should look at the city as a giant clock. This is probably very basic to anyone reading this, but since I knew Nashville like the back of my hand, I was anxious to learn my way around Houston very quickly.
I learned that we now live in the Two O’Clock spot on the dial. I work at 10 O’Clock and he works at Eight O’Clock, which is a HUGE reason (among others) that we wish to live in the inner Loop. This little technique also makes it easy when I read about cool sounding places and want to check them out. It provides a great point of reference to anyone in the city.
Finding your place: OK, now this is very, very subjective. But I think that you should get to know a new city for a bit before buying a place. Just to see what areas you are drawn to and keep frequenting.
As soon as I moved here, I knew that RT and I would find the perfect part of the city to move to once I got my bearings. RT has previously lived in the Museum District, Galleria, and Highland Village areas, pre-children. Now that his kids are older, we are all about getting into the best place for our needs at this phase of our life and relationship, i.e. shops, restaurants, museums ... all the Good Stuff.
I am absolutely relishing the hunt for our new home. Years ago, I sold real estate and the only thing about that job I loved was the showing of the property, so I am in heaven with the looking part. So far, I am all over the Memorial Park to Galleria areas. For some reason, a ton of people are trying to steer us to The Woodlands, and while I see its attraction, I want to live in HOUSTON, not the outer regions.
One of the first things I did when I moved here was make friends with a realtor. So far, we are still just doing drive bys and checking out open houses, but we are going to be gearing up in a couple of months to get the move underway. I keep checking out RT’s previous neighborhoods, for which I am sure, would all be stellar choices.
More driving tips: Raised freeway winter alert! Just as I finally got used to zipping up and around the raised freeways, we had the ice thing! Guess who opted to spend that day chez moi? Seriously, driving on icy roads is not new to me, but driving on slick, elevated ramps WAAAY up in the air ... super scary! Just saying …
And I must confess that I still have Tennessee tags, so if we have more icy days, and you see a silver Camry driving at a glacial pace, please be patient and let me merge at will. I am learning as fast as I can.
On a more pleasant note, a marvelous city sight that I have shared with newcomers is the view of downtown from Highway 59 North at the 45 split at night. Very impressive! I hope I never take this fabulous vista for granted. This screams, “I am in Houston!” to me more than any other view of the city.
Shopping suggestion: Once you find a few boutiques or stores in general that you like, be sure to remember the person who helped you there. Get their name and keep asking for them each time you go in the store. These individuals can be invaluable in helping you get acclimated in your new Houston life. I have been amazed by the friendliness and level of sophistication in this city. Everyone has been beyond helpful and wonderful to me. Just ask for advice, listen and be prepared to receive it in spades.
Living in a Pink Bubble might be hard to maintain for the long haul, but I am giving it my best shot. And I DO know that, so far, life in Houston has been a marvelous experience and one that I can highly recommend.