Houston and Its Diverse Hubs Made Me Who I Am
It’s a sturdy sort of empathy, the kind that makes things happen—whether it’s after the loss of a sports team, or before three hours of traffic, or when the waters are rising.
Explaining those layers to someone who’s not a local, or anyone who’s gone away and come back, can be an ordeal. The city’s like this now, but also it’s also like that. And a little bit of those. And some of that other thing, too. There’s always the melting pot analogy, but, really, it’s more like hot pot—a dish that’s dipped in three, four, and five times, with less regard for the pleasantries than the experience.
Have you eaten? Why not? Then are you hungry?
Bryan Washington is the author of Lot, with fiction and essays appearing in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, Boston Review, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, MUNCHIES, American Short Fiction, GQ, FADER, The Awl, Hazlitt, and Catapult. He’s the recipient of an O. Henry Award, and he lives in Houston.
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Montrose was unofficially codified as the nexus of queer life in Houston. If you held a map to the wall, I could tell you how we came to be on those streets.
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You’re in the city, but you aren’t. You don’t have to spend any money. No one’s asking about your documentation. You don’t have to do much at all except for exist, and open your eyes.
We’d made a connection across tables, generations, tongues, our own tiny blip of transcendence. Holiness in the noodle bar.
If traditions like the rodeo can accommodate Houston’s diversity, whole new traditions will be formed—leaving us with something even better.