There are so many hidden paths of beauty within the city of Houston. From an outsider looking in, Houston may give off the impression of a city that’s meant for businessmen wearing suits and carrying briefcases around the plazas of Downtown. But what’s hidden from the naked eye is the secret world that’s just waiting to be introduced to strangers by true Houstonians.
For myself, having been raised in Houston, I know nothing else except for the city life. For me, Houston means much more than what meets the eye. Okay, I’ll be first to admit that our city has a major problem with pollution. Within the confines of Memorial, pollution appears to be the lesser of problems. Instead, you’ll find large houses fit for more than a couple, and BMW’s mixed with Mercedes M-class vehicles belonging to soccer moms. Drive a little further down and you’ll see the new, gigantic elementary school that was built almost overnight. Here, within the bubble of Memorial, you’re almost inherently blocked from the dirtier and multifaceted characteristics which make Houston what it is.
If you compare Downtown Houston to Memorial, you’re comparing two different worlds. Within the heart of Downtown, you’re exposed to the industrial and purely business side of Houston. Oil companies overwhelm every block, law firms on the corner of the streets, and financial companies decorate every skyscraper. If you venture to the outskirts of Downtown, you’ll be welcomed to the adverse and lower income Houston, eventually leading to the poorer wards. Go the opposite way and you’ll come across Midtown and expensive condominiums for rent, an area which is especially attractive for young professionals fresh out of college.
If I could change one thing about the city it would be the ridiculous weight of traffic. Rush hour starts around 3.30pm and continues until 6.30pm. Within the three hour gap, upon estimate, car trips average in length by 40% increasingly. In fact, traffic is so bad that you’ll find a popular Instagram trend created because of it: the #Traffic selfie. And if you’ve been in Houston for more than a few minutes, you’ll notice that Houston drivers simply… suck. Never in my life have I experienced a casual rain storm, light or heavy, without hearing the sound of sirens rushing in the streets, reporting to a car accident. There’s something about Houston drivers that makes me wonder if the DMV wasn’t stringent enough when rewarding new drivers with their license. But you can’t dwell on the negatives, in Houston, we have some of the best and complex highways in the nation. And let’s not forget about the convenience of having an exit at almost every mile. Compared to California, a state where you’d have to drive five or six miles past your destination just to exit, Houston’s got it good. And our highways are so large, having so many separate lanes! Things like this make driving down I-10 at night is one of the best things ever, windows down, music up.
Houston is a city with mood swings, but overlook the humidity and constantly changing weather patterns and you’ll find what you can’t find elsewhere. Houston is a community. A cultural hub. A professional boom-town. It’s no wonder Houston gets all the attention it does, every corner varies from the other. Whether it’s walking around the get up of the Galleria, running errands in the Medical Center, or running laps around Memorial Park, there’s always something new or unusual that I’ve never seen before. This city never ceases to amaze me.
Just a few days ago I went with one of my best friends to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Park. Along a busy street, there’s a narrow pathway which leads to the trail. It just so happened that there was a fresh farmers market going on too, with tents set up by locals selling their fresh fruit. Though the weather wasn’t as I was expecting (when is it ever, honestly) the sights were so refreshing. Along the trail I saw bunnies and squirrels, turtles swimming about in the ponds. The sound of birds chirping and singing melodies quieted the hum of the city-life. The pictures above and below were taken at the park, along one of the narrow pathways within the Arboretum. It amazes me how this piece of beauty can be found within the hustle-and-bustle of the city, so untouched, and so preserved.
I grew up in Houston and now I’m studying in Austin, both beautiful cities with gems that have yet to be discovered. I love spending my time in Houston as it’s my home, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.