Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top things I miss the most after leaving Houston, Texas

    As promised here is my companion piece to the post about things I’m glad to leave behind in our move from Houston to Washington, DC. This time I pine for the things I find myself missing already.

  1. World-class medical facilities. Yes, I know that other cities have good doctors and hospitals, but no other can boast of the world’s largest medical center, all within a couple miles from home. First-rate women’s hospital? Check. Pediatric urologist? Check. Pediatric ophthalmologist? Check. When I contract some rare disease on our future exotic family travel adventures, I’ma come back to Houston for treatment.
  2. Chiles Rellenos at Taco Milagro. I have certain dishes I’ll always miss from the places I’ve lived. In western New York it was the pad thai at Mamasan’s; in California, it was the veggie burger and fries at Bishop Burger (now closed, I’m told) and the Sweet Basil Tofu at Thai-rrific. Not only is Taco Milagro where I discovered my passion for sipping tequila, but one of their signature dishes is vegetarian. The chiles rellenos at Taco Milagro are poblano peppers stuffed with cheese (worth falling off the dairy-free wagon), dried apricots and nuts, smothered in a tasty sauce and served with rice and beans. Absolute heaven. Especially with a fine tequila.
  3. Central Market. Is there another grocery store in the country that can hold a candle to this cathedral of food? Fresh produce for miles, an extensive and comprehensive bulk foods department, world-class bakery featuring store-made whole-wheat tortillas (sometimes still warm!) and chocolate cherry bread, excellent prepared foods and a decent floral department.
  4. Low cost of living. As we just moved to one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, I will look back and remember that in Houston a quarter of a million dollars (in 2002) got us a very nice three-bedroom ranch with pool close in to where we work. In DC, that won’t even buy you a decent studio apartment.
  5. Reasonable traffic. What? Anyone who lives in a mansion in Pearland or Katy fights horrendous traffic on a daily basis. So how can I count this among the things I miss about Houston? Two reasons. I lived close in (see above) and didn’t have to get on the crowded freeway everyday. And everyday trips to run errands did not involve logistical planning to figure out whether parking is available, or free, or what combination of Metro stations or bus routes are involved. If I needed to run an errand, I got in my car, drove a short distance, parked, shopped and returned home. Simple.

You know it’s time to leave Houston when…

As I celebrate the sale of our house in Houston, which we left four months ago for our next big adventure in DC, I’ve become contemplative about my hometown of the last 13 years. Raised in western New York, I never in a million years expected a Texas city to become the place I would live the longest since leaving my parents’ home at age 17. I originally came to Houston on a temporary assignment and expected to stay no more than two years. Yet as the years passed, the first house was purchased, two li’l Texans were spawned, and Houston came to feel like home, if always a little surprisingly. The city has a lot to offer, as a companion piece will argue, but there are aspects I’ll gladly leave behind, some tongue-in-cheek and others dead serious.

You know it’s time to leave Houston and Texas when…

  1. You start using “fixing to” in everyday speech. I’m fixing to prune that sago this weekend.
    1. You’ve had to stop yourself from dropping the ‘g’ in “fixing to” in written prose.
  2. You hear yourself using the expression “might could” in conversation. I might could use the number of a good contractor.
  3. You’d like once again to eat restaurant beans prepared without pig parts.
  4. You can cross “live through a hurricane” off your adventure bucket list.
  5. The second spring in a row is too hot and drought-stricken to grow anything but salvia and purslane.
  6. Your monthly summer water bill hits triple digits with no end in sight due to a historic, catastrophic drought.
  7. You’re tired of the risk of heat stroke severely curtailing your outdoor activities in the very season when the kids are out of school and daily sunlight hours are at their peak.
    1. The mosquitoes keep you indoors even when the daytime temperatures start to drop.
  8. For months on end even 5:30 am isn’t early enough to escape the heat and humidity on your run.
  9. You’ve had enough entertainment and lifestyle news to last a lifetime and want a local paper that reports actual news on its homepage.
  10. Your child’s science teacher says she presents the theory of evolution in biology class because it is forced upon her but she knows the real truth.
    1. There are many such science teachers in the public school system.
  11. The so-called Texas Miracle of growth amid the economic downturn is about to turn into a nightmare as funding for public schools is cut by billions of dollars.

Admittedly this was written some months ago when the temperatures were still blazing. And maybe the mid-Atlantic summer to come will prove to be just as hellish. But I doubt it. And no Houston autumn can come close to the perfection we’ve been enjoying this year. I think I’ll stay awhile.