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City Boy Resurgence

August 5, 2009

I’ve grown accustomed (and fond) of living inside the Loop here in Houston. For those of you out of towners, the 610 highway encircles the core of Houston, the first of 2 1/2 concentric highways that give a map of Houston a look not unlike an ever-expanding onion. The innermost loop has experienced a renaissance in the Aughts, as the sports teams built stadiums downtown and people flocked inward from the suburbs to be closer to the action.

I was a child of the suburbs growing up, but didn’t really realize it until moving to the inner loop almost four years ago. Living in Memorial, wedged between the inner and outer loops, I was caught between urban and suburban, but I unconsciously identified more suburban. Being a Texan complicates this dichotomy; every Texan feels (rightly or wrongly) that deep down, they’d cut it as a cowboy if the opportunity presented itself. How else do you explain lawyers who drive F-350 ranch trucks to and from downtown every day?

So as I made my one residence outside of Houston in College Station, the desire to identify as something other than a city boy became acute. It can be said that, though they have a similar enrollment, Texas A&M feels like a small town, while the University of Texas feels like a small city. It’s only natural then that my life goals soon after graduation centered on eventually having some land in Washington County and buying a larger truck than the one that I then drove.

But as I returned to Houston and spent a large amount of time socializing in Katy, I began to see the limitations of suburban/pseudo-rural life. I didn’t want to eat at Chili’s again. The City Boy Resurgence began.

Fortunately, I found a church home inside the Loop, with a large group of friends, many of whom never grew up in Houston (and thus never knew a Houston life besides the urban one they now lived), and I fell back in love with the city, the city I didn’t even really know. It was like reconnecting with an elementary school friend with whom you shared some fond memories, only to find that they were even more well-suited to you now than before.

Now The City and I hang out frequently, and while I don’t regret any of the path that brought me here, I do wonder if I wouldn’t have gotten here sooner if I’d gone away to the small city instead of the small town. At very least, I would’ve traded in my truck a little sooner.

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