There is a passage in the Bible, I would have to Google it but don’t have a connection, that admonishes to not build a house upon the sand, for that house will not stand. I am not sure, since the Sephardic religions were unfamiliar with water if that warning covered swamps, but I am sure that had there been a richer aquifer in those lands of the Profits that to build upon a swamp would have carried the same dire warning from the Creator/s.
Houston clearly did not study their religion well since they built their city not so much upon the sands but the shifting prospecting mud of the swamp. True, over the course of so many generations, they drained the mud to make it dry and diverted the lingering bayous and waterways into a series of cement channels some of which they have attempted to restore with greenery and plantings but still show signs of being but a shadow of their natural selves, especially after a flood where in decades of yore the waters seeped to the ocean through swamp and muck, the water today races down streets and parking lots and violently charges to the sea.
The city was born in war and in peace the city grew and shifted and grew some more, clearing and draining and finding the garden of Genesis far too inconvenient. Then, the latter part of the 20th century came more and more people and the sleepy hacking and log splitting and cow mooing was to become a fast growing city. And there it did come from other lands and from so far away the population came settling down. First the Yankee invasion of those who had to flee the quickly rusting belt of North American Industrialization.
Then, the tides of refugees from the American Wars in South Asia, the Dirty Wars in South and Central America brought the first flare of what is called “internationalism” to the city and with more vigor the city grew so that those Yankees were out numbered and it was difficult to find a native Houstonian in the shopes and gas stations of the city. Oil and gas brought those members of so many nations who also coveted the same mineral, and then upon that more recent wars, this time over narcotics and then over more oil elsewhere brought even more people. Finally, any number of reasons brought people including if you must arrive via an airport in Texas, an airport named after the man who launched a war against your country is as good a place to start as any. Before anyone knew it the city of Houston was a real city, an international city, and gone were the quaint bayous and the not so charming cement drainage ditches. Houston is a melting mixing mire-swamp of peoples that some East Coast centers of immigration can only dream to boast about. The one thing that unites all these diverse people is that they refuse to allow for any time of land use zoning and that they worship the car as some yet pay homage to the golden calf so hated by Moses or other idols detested by alternate Profits.
And to this, one can as the Intertubes is available, check for restaurants on whatever service is your installed app int his city and blow it up with the number of options. There is food of so many locations that in all of the history of humanity you may eat better than any individual in so many millions of years all in the same city. To this, there are as many places to challenge your liver from Honkey Tonk to Techno-infused raver-style-wannabe. However, the swamp remains in legacy only. The wild areas of Mother Nature have been replaced with a carpet of humanity and this takes all shapes. in Houston, as other cities, there is a diversity of genomic variety, economic activity, and a jumble created by the lack of zoning and city planning. If you take a tour of the city you will also see the breadth of fortune in this green and darkening land from the makers to the takers and everyone in-between. There are slums that would make Detroit and Newark blush. Horrible streets lined with houses of some casual composition and risky endeavor as there are also tree-lined oak boulevards with rich and well-preserved houses of a bygone error of sophistication and racial oppression as there are the democratic vulgarareums built by new and old alike to preserve garages filled with the latest toys and of an international style unconcerned with history or athletics.
There are large blocks of the city that are, but vacant streets filled with zombies and within the glass and faux marble towers another type of undead, but those with paychecks and positions with fancy titles. There are hipster areas that are distant cousins of their more urban counterparts since these hipsters relay on cars and Uber more than others and one bar with the cool band is miles away from another. There are universities and art museums and culture of all kinds, but there are highways unending that cannot be ever known, even by your GPS and a geography of nowhere that stretches for hours in all direction.
The rot of modern life pushes ever harder on the wet clay and in places it seems that the city may return to the bayous from which it has taken its name. in others, the trees reach over the streets to make green tunnels, and in certain locations it is difficult to say that were these spots not entirely surrounded by a behemoth megapolis of uncertain destiny, any house would offer a life of polite drinks on the porch, backyard BBQs, and ample space for several cars.
As it is, I will not be returning to Houston frequently, nor perhaps for quite some time after this next trip. There are things that at first horrified me that I am come to understand, and some places that I have come to know. I have met great people and avoided the constant violence that lays beneath that hard sticking clay that alternates between stone and glue depending on the rain cycle. I have been to Houston in the ice storms, the pouring rain, the extreme heat and humidity that I thought would kill me at any moment, as I have enjoyed those temperate days, and for now, the smell of autumn as even in Texas, the seasons are changing.