The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

September 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

…”What are, trees & shingles & glass, Alex?”

Yesterday marked the first day we really got out of the house. At least in the Midtown/Montrose area, things seem to be opening at an exponential rate, daily: Sunday, hardly anything was open; Monday found us camping out on the floor of Borders with a score of other folks, taking advantage of free wireless & air conditioning & just plain civilization; & by yesterday afternoon, there were tons of places to eat & buy groceries, & more people on the roads than is probably advisable, given that many of the traffic lights still don’t work.

So, we went first to the UH campus to check email & do some printing, & canceled classes for our students for the week. The campus itself is on the mangled side, covered in debris that was once its strangely lovely foliage. Many of the roads, including Wheeler & Cleburne, are closed one or two blocks away from campus, which we discovered as we tried to leave.

On the way to & from UH, we drove past a supply station running out of Texas Southern University, giving out food & ice to folks in the Third Ward. A long line of cars, with people & police everywhere.

After, we went to W.D.’s to watch The Wire & eat Chipotle, which is thankfully among the functional places of business in this town. Then, we hit the Kroger on Buffalo Speedway, which was in a shopping center we’d never explored, & in one of the seemingly ritzier areas we’ve seen. The result? Nicest Kroger ever. & the storm scene wasn’t bad, at least in this part of town: Lots of folks, certain sections more picked over than usual, & Kroger employees giving out ice. We stocked up on canned goods, frozen dinners, & other nonperishables, in the hopes that we won’t have to waste too much gas going out there again until it’s easier to fill up.

Later, M. & E. came over for a beer. The city curfew was moved to 12am, so a group of MFA/Ph.D.s wanted to go to the West Alabama Icehouse, & when they discovered it was closed, they came here. It was our first unofficial gathering in our new place, & it was impromptu & wonderful. There were only ten or so of us, but it felt full & alive, especially after the houseboundedness of the storm. M. from downstairs came up to join us, perhaps taking refuge from his Galveston-area family, who are downstairs taking refuge here. He’s been a great source of helpful information about Houston, as a Gulf Coast native, & he gave us his WEP so we can use the internet.

Which brings me to today’s admission: With my newfound ability to stream videos, what was the first thing I did this morning? Watch Iron Chef America: Battle Garlic. & I don’t fucking regret it.

All I’ve seen of the city has been resilient, community-oriented, & optimistic. There’s a tremendous generosity here, & everyone seems to be erring on the side of empathy. I don’t know that events like this bring out the best in people, so much as they emphasize that best in people has been there all along, & been here in Houston.

Much Gulf Coast love.



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