Last week, I drove by the house in the Heights I lived in as a child. The neighborhood that was rough around the edges in the ’70s is now populated with shiny happy families on matching bicycles riding down the middle of the street. Our house in Bellaire (as well as that of my grandparents) long ago fell under the blade of a bulldozer to be replaced with a stucco paean to yuppiedom and excess.
Some favorite places are still here. Mecom Fountain in front of what used to be the Warwick (when Phil Donahue asked Bob Hope about his favorite view, Bob reportedly said, “The view from the Warwick Hotel is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It’s just like Paris.”) (which would make me think his favorite view would actually be somewhere in Paris, but I digress), Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Astrodome (kind of), the planetarium at the Museum of Natural Science (they still do a Pink Floyd laser show!), Lankford Grocery, David Adickes’ heads, Memorial Park.
Lots of other places are gone. Because this is Houston.
Houston is an unsentimental city. It favors the new over the old, growth over stasis, more-more-more over this-is-enough. It’s a city of the moment, not the past. When I return for a visit, whether it’s this summer or the holidays, Houston will look different than it does today. And should I move back here in a year or a decade, I know I’ll be welcomed into the fast-moving current. No reproachful looks. No passive-aggressive “look who’s back.” Just a bunch of forward-moving people glancing over their shoulders and saying, “Come on!”
In Houston, you can’t go home again. And you can’t really say goodbye. But you’re always welcome to join the now.