houston again

by brianasoler

I want to remember how i see Houston forever, although i doubt i will ever forget my hometown. I love Houston and i also hate Houston, maybe equally, maybe the scale tips both ways depending on where I am. But mostly, i have an unhealthy relationship with Houston. Don’t we all with our hometowns or is it just me? While although Houston is massive, fourth largest city i think it is now, with over 2 million people living here, its so wide, so spaced out i think you would hardly even notice. Hayden and I have been going out during sunset the past few weeks (at the end of summer) and purposefully walked around areas to photograph. The Menil, the MFA area, near HSPVA, the new Glassell school of art. This has helped, but it also reminds me how foreign walking pedestrians are to everyone here. I cant fully articulate my thoughts on Houston (without sounding angry) just yet, but there is a lot wrong with it and Texas in general. I have never felt like i really belonged here anyway, not since… ever, truthfully. For as long as i can remember i always longed to be somewhere else, maybe i knew there was more to life than this (and there is.) Living in the east coast was a double edged sword. Double because i loved it, but it made coming back here harder, made me dislike Houston more. But when i leave Houston i find i am always sticking up for it, trying to show others the good in it. How can location change everything? Of course it can… depending on what’s around it, what minerals, oil, or natural resources are around it, what jobs will attract based on its economy, but still. How can location change every feeling in your bone? I suppose its all perspective and what you want out of life, how you want to experience it. When i close my eyes and think of Houston i see cars, the freeway, the metro, and apartment buildings and office buildings that are brown and green, like mold, and then the green of the grass and trees. I see nothing. Gas Stations. more cars. Houses. Telephone polls. Food. I see nothing.

A vignette of a memory:

Gold. Brown. Yellow. But a deep mustardy gold yellow. I see the Galleria. I see my mom dressed to the nines. She always had a great sense of style. I see her curly short black hair that she no longer has. I see my dad, thin and young. I see me in the car with my brother and maybe my sister is a baby. I see my parents get out of the car, to go meet some people, or to go into an office building to pick up something. But its brown, its always brown. Everything in Houston is brown. I can no longer remember what they were saying outside of the car, or if they were at all. In my mind their voices are mumbled, not quite passing through the closed car doors. Maybe its fall or winter. But its Westheimer road. Its the galleria. Of course i don’t know if any of this is true. just a memory in shards. I don’t know if its a photograph i saw, or a collection of broken memories. Or a general memory.  But when i think of Houston, the inner loop, thats one of my earliest memories. I don’t know what it means, or if it means anything at all, but it pops in my head sometimes. Like a riddle i’m meant to figure out.

We started this project because i read in an interview of a film photographer who’s work i enjoy, walks at sunset for hours in whatever city he is in to get his photos. Taking 4-5 rolls at a time. I wanted to try it. I could only ever finish one roll and its usually only an hour for us. Houston is large, but the inner loop is not. The inner loop is the city, it is the area you would want to be in if you are anyone who enjoys city life, and definitely if you are visiting from a denser city, the inner loop would be the most comparable. But still. I find it doesn’t measure up to anything. They say happiness is having no expectations, that way you have no way of feeling disappointed. Maybe thats true. Maybe thats why i constantly feel low here, because i constantly feel disappointed. I want it to be New York, but its not. I want it to be LA, Chicago, Oregon, Boston, somewhere where the city makes sense. Maybe my expectations are too high. Houston never wanted to be any of those places, did it? Houston is oil and trucks and people who love food (we do have great food though). Houston is square feet. More for your money. Maybe. Although some of these apartment complexes are charging like its new York. Houston is isolated, separated, everyone in their cars all the time, not having to really socialize. Land of the drive thru’s. They say the south is friendly, with open arms, and maybe thats true sometimes, but generally i find that what others think is friendly is merely being polite. Fake polite. No one actually cares about you, maybe your aunt in conroe or something, but conroe isn’t Houston, isn’t the inner loop. You see why talking about Houston is so confusing? its hard to “get” unless you live here. There is no real sense of community, just hi how are you. No real sense of support. Its a talk shit city, which i love and then hate when the city wants to talk shit to me. I have found it is hard to find other people interested in what i am interested in. People here are more closed minded than they would like to think, less open to change than they realize. There is beauty too though, in Houston, about Houston, i just think i’m too close to see it.

This is me looking back and remembering only the good in Boston. This is me comparing with its good, Houstons bad. When time has passed and when i am looking back on Houston, will i still say the same things? still feel the same way?

Here i am rambling again, ruminating again. All the crud that wont make it into essays. or maybe bits will who knows. I will write more on the education system here and the other bits of it that have shaped my overall view on this subject but for now i guess i am back, blogging.

These are not nearly all the film photos from the project but here is some to start – will start sharing them slowly.