I went to Houston on Saturday. A colleague of mine was being ordained on Sunday (and hurray for you Rev. W!), so I went to be part of the celebration. I’ve never been to Texas before. Now Texas isn’t as big as Alaska, but it’s pretty big, so that’s a big chunk that I’ve been missing. I still haven’t been to most of Texas, but at least now I’ve been to Texas.
Houston is a very flat city. I’m not really shocked by this, I mean, I can read a map. I know that Houston is right there by the Gulf of Mexico, so I wasn’t expecting mountains. But Holy 2X4s Batman, Houston is seriously flat. So I might want to go run a half marathon there sometime.
Houston is also very warm. Again, Gulf of Mexico. Not surprising. I love having four seasons, but it’s nice to sneak away from winter every now and again and be reminded that there’s warm weather somewhere.
The other thing I noticed about Houston, in the very short time that I was there, is that people are really friendly. I mean seriously friendly. Outgoing-cheery-smiling friendly. The car rental shuttle bus driver was just sitting at the curb waiting for me. The car rental agent walked me out to the car, set up the GPS, and waited to make sure I had no questions about the car. I’ve rented cars in Boise, ID, where the guy at the counter tells me, “your car is in space E2. Enjoy your stay.” And there aren’t that many people renting cars at the Boise airport. This was Houston.
I stayed with a family who belong to the church and who are friends of my colleague. Again, very friendly. There was a party for my friend on Saturday night, and I was late because my flight was late. They kept the food out for me.
Now, I’m not saying that the people in my home town (New York City) are not friendly. I think New Yorkers are friendly in a New York kind of way, which is generally not especially outgoing. And I will freely admit that many people in my adopted home of the D.C. metro area are just not at all friendly – although many are. But this Houston friendly is just so welcoming.
I did see a billboard on the highway that asked if I died tonight would I be going to heaven or hell? Well, ok, in my theology everyone goes to heaven. Eventually, anyway. So I guess the answer is heaven. But even if that isn’t the theology of the folks who put up the billboard, at least they included a phone number.
Here’s the thing – outside of Texas there’s this perception that Texans are, well, all like Ted Cruz. It’s easy to generalize about folks when we don’t know them. I met several people who were quick to inform me that there were lots of different people in Texas, and not everyone thought like Ted Cruz. I reminded them that not everyone in Virginia thinks like Ken Cucinnelli. Since he lost the gubernatorial race, I guess that’s a pretty safe bet now. Even so, somehow he got elected as Attorney General once.
So I didn’t get to Mission Control. I didn’t get to visit any of the museums. I didn’t get to sample Houston’s night life. I just visited with people. People and some cats and a dog. But in the end, that’s really the best part about traveling.
I didn’t do any shopping in Houston. But I hope I brought back some of that gracious hospitality. I hope I brought back some of that infectious friendliness.
That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.