Sunday's paper revealed that a photo gallery in town was closing a show of photos collected from the Houston, It's Worth It campaign created in 2004. During that hot summer, some folks determined that they would ask what made living here worth it. You can see some of what happened in that campaing at www.HoustonItsWorthIt.com. This summer they went from words to pictures and with just a few hours to spare before closing, I was able to take it in.
Seems the initial campaign acknowledged the following 20 "afflictions" before posing the question of worth: the heat, humidity, hurricanes, flying cockroaches, moquitoes, traffic, construction, sprawl, refineries, ridicule, pollen, air, billboards, flooding, image, property taxes, short springs, long summers, potholes, no mountains.
The photos made me (and many others from the sound of it) laugh, smile and genuinely beam with pride as we collectively determined where some of the shots were taken or let it be known with numerous expressions of surprise "Oh, I've been there!" The shot of the three women in Muslim head dress watching a young man play pool reminded me of just how diverse we are. The gay pride parade had a couple of entries. As did the Art Car parade. Then there was just the right angles that were used to capture the beauty of downtown juxtaposed against a Fourth Ward two-story shack.
And enhancing the pictures were the quotes also hanging clothesline style throughout the space. I copied a few of my favorites:
"Houston is like your crazy grandma who smells funny. You know she can still cook up a storm, tell a good joke or two and she *knows* she's crazy. It's only the outsiders who wonder why you love her and spend so much time with her."
"It's an international city: the traffic of LA and the climate of Calcutta."
"Houston is worth it because if you are here, you want to be here. The heat, the mosquitoes, the traffic -- sure, they might bug you, but you have more important things to do than whine about the weather. Houston is worth it because it knows YOU are worth it."
"If Houston were a person perhaps she would be a stubborn, tough, irreverante drunk. She would also be deceptively smart and unbelievably generous. If I were lucky enough to have her as a friend and we were separated, she would be one of the few who I would call weekly and visit as often as possible just to stay grounded."
For me, Houston is definitely worth it because of days like today -- days when I needed to know that life keeps on. Today I realized that rather than initiating moments I had fallen into a pattern of simply letting life happen to me. AND had therefore determined that was unacceptable. I need a balance of both making things happen and experiencing what comes. So on this Sunday, I re-discovered all that I love about this town. I read a newspaper that takes more than an hour to get through just the headlines. I rode my bike along a bayou and though sweating like crazy and nearing dehydration, celebrated my fellow cyclists, the street people sucking in what shade they could find, and the story teller I was listening to on the radio. I went to a movie alone and then to another with a friend. I laughed aloud as the audience moaned at the kiss in Talledega Nights (you'll know what I mean when you see it) and hugged my playmate that much harder when we determined that perhaps this wasn't really "our" kind of movie. I saw some great photos and spent a leisurely supper dissecting everything with a couple of friends.
Even grocery shopping in this town makes me smile.
So here I sit. The fridge and my heart are full. This was not the day I intended a week ago. Then I was going to New Mexico and returning tomorrow rather than helping with a funeral. This was not the day I planned yesterday when I was going to take my friend to church for a little comfort. Circumstances changed and I did go with the flow. Until, that is, I knew it was time to determine the flow.
I hope all my friends and family experience days like today . . . in whatever form makes them grateful. Because gratitude serves as a market -- that yes, "this" is worth it!