I know. It’s been days since I’ve written. Both my mind and my Moleskin are filled with fragments waiting to become poems and posts. Instead, my days and nights have been filled with food and friends, with laughter and tears, with new faces and familiar smiles.
Yesterday, I drove into Houston, where I graduated from high school. Houston was a hard town for me. My family arrived here in January of 1973 (I just realized that was forty years ago this past week) and I started attending Westbury High School at mid-semester of my eleventh grade year. I knew no one. Because of the way the schools were divided in those days, my brother attended ninth grade at Fondren Junior High, so we were not in the same building. The way I remember it, I went to school for two weeks before anyone talked to me. The worst part of the day was lunch time because I ate by myself. I’m sure that is, at least in part, how this blog got its name.
The story did not stay so bleak. Gordon Fort, whose parents were also missionaries in Africa and were on furlough, found out I was at WHS and found me at lunch one day. He introduced me to his youth group from Willow Meadows Baptist Church and my life was changed. I remembered who I was, I began to make friends, and I had a good senior year. Then, a year and a half after I had arrived , I left Houston and went to Baylor. My brother stayed all through high school; my parents stayed a lifetime. I left fairly unattached. Houston was, for me, not a place to go back to. And I haven’t been here in a long, long time.
When I drove in from Huntsville, I approached the city from a different perspective that I have in most of my travels. We lived on the Southwest side of town, so I always came from there. This time, I came from the north and could see how it sprawled out in front of me. I stayed last night with Heather, a high school friend, and her family, and I’ve done my best to sample as much of the good food here as I can.
As I have driven around, I have seen streets I remember — Bellaire Boulevard, Stella Link, Buffalo Speedway, Chimney Rock — but much of what was once there has changed. The same could be said of me. I am recognizable, but I am not the same person who learned to drive on these streets, and who worked so hard to get away from them. Though I still don’t want to spend the summer here, Houston’s wide open arms have caught me by surprise.
I am glad to be here.
I love reading your blog- and this one hits home especially. I grew up visiting grandparents in Houston, never thinking much of the place. But now I live in an apartment less than a mile from their old home and am often unexpected bombarded with nostalgia when I turn on a new (old) street in town- some may be unrecognizable, but others have carefully preserved my memories.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the honest memories Milton.
I remember too well the year at Little Rock Central High. I was so glad to go home after furlough to the school I knew so well, and friends I had missed. The cafeteria scene is true, and painful still.
At St. Luke’s you spoke a bit about the divine incarnation. Well, after reading your book once (I’m on my second pass now), I will say it was so lovely to have those thoughts incarnated by the presence of the author. We share similar heritages with our Baptist roots. It seems that former Baptists make very good Methodists, and UCCs. God bless the rest of your tour, Miton.
We’re in our 23rd house. Yep. Houston–that was the place between San Antonio (our house) and New Orleans (Dad’s) where the traffic got so crazy that I stayed in the middle lane, held tight, and never got off the road. I’m sorry I missed it. Enjoy every moment –it’s not summer!
If I were in Houston and hungry, I’d make my way to Pappadeaux. I’d have crawfish bisque, Greek salad, shrimp etoufee, creme brulee. I would; I would.