I’ve called you home for 28 years. Nearly 3 decades of memories permeate from your winding streets and assorted structures. City landmarks have become asterisks on my timeline marking an endless thread of milestones and firsts. 610, I10, HWY 6, 59, Beltway 8…you’ve become my time capsule, paving the path to my future without letting me forget my past.
Growing up in Alief, I knew very little outside the southwest community. Exploring the inner loop was a rare occurrence. When my family did venture inside 610, my mother would lead us in a Filipina accented sing-along version of Petula Clark’s Downtown. Staying within the confines of Alief was never an issue for me as a child. Summers were blissfully spent at West Oaks Mall where tapioca from Hello Josephine was a must and I’d always run into a familiar face on the way to Spencer’s Gifts. Before Funplex was a music video set for Beyoncé, it was our youthful paradise where we celebrated classmates’ birthdays and spent hours perfecting our skee-ball techniques. Throughout my high school years, you’d catch us strolling through Hong Kong City Mall to pick up a bun mi or voyage to Sugar Land where we’d visit Sanrio Surprises at First Colony Mall. Times were simple. And we were happy.
My horizons broadened when I enrolled at the University of St.Thomas tucked away in the heart of Montrose. Montrose was the slice of life my soul never knew it needed. From the Menil collection to the vivid colors of the resale shops that lined Westheimer, culture was sprinkled everywhere and my love for lyrics and street art was nurtured. My life was forever changed when I graduated and began a career in Public Relations working closely with inspiring nonprofits and art organizations.
It wasn’t just the work that changed me, it was the people. It took one person to believe in me. Her confidence in my ability gave me the opportunity to transform and mature, learning prevailing lessons from souls I met along the way. I realized being a native Houstonian was a rare breed. I happily acted as a city ambassador, but the truth is, you’ve never been a city with intentions to conform people. You are shaped by diversity, cultures drawn from cities around the world.
Over the years I’ve seen you change. I’ve witnessed amusement parks vanish, stadiums stripped, and fields of cows convert into rows of shopping centers. I’ve seen neighborhoods flip and highways expand. Not every change has been one for the better. Then there is one thing that hasn’t changed. It’s the spirit of Houston. A unique blend of southern warmth combined with a big city feel that has yet to alter. And I hope it never does.
Alas, I bid farewell to you Houston. You will always be my hometown, my beginning, my heart. I’m off to a new setting with imminent promise of a grand chapter ahead, but I’ll never forget the pivotal role you’ve played in my story thus far. I’ll always rep H-town.