In 2004, two Houstonians came up with the city’s unofficial motto: Houston, It’s Worth It.
In a way, #hiwi is spoken in jest. We know this city has problems. The heat. The concrete. The mosquitos. The traffic.
But there is something else about Houston — something that has found its way into the hearts of so many people over the years, myself included. And that something has been on full display over the past few weeks, as the city rallied in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Houston is not my hometown. But it is my home.
Like many other people, I moved to Houston for reasons having little to do with the “appeal” of the city. I’ve talked about this before, but leaving Oklahoma, where I was born and raised, and moving to Houston in 2003 improved my life IMMEDIATELY. I met my husband here. I found a community here. I built a life here where I felt like I belonged.
Since then, I have considered Houston my home. It’s not where I was born, but it’s where I’m “from”, because the city has contributed so much to who I am today.
I have left the city a few times. In 2005 I moved to South Korea for three years. In 2015 I moved to the Netherlands for a year and a half. But it took leaving the first time for me to understand what Houston meant to me, and the second time, even though I was sad to leave Amsterdam, I knew I was going to someplace equally as special, a city that had a place in my heart.
People who aren’t from Houston or who have only traveled here from work don’t understand. I’ve always felt that part of my role as an expat (or Texpat, if you prefer) was to staunchly defend this town. My motto was less #HIWI and more #FYHA. Because unlike other cities in Texas, we aren’t really interested in trying to win people over. You either get it or you don’t.
Today feels like the first normal day in ages. Kids went back to school today, two weeks after what was supposed to be their original start date. The weather is cool and it hasn’t rained for days. Instead of working from home, my husband got up at 6 am and left for the office (though he’s working Downtown because his normal office out west is still under water).
As we start to rebuild and regroup, I am thinking about what the future holds for Houston. Will this city take the opportunity to reevaluate our growth and development and make changes for the better? Will the economic stability of Houston suffer as many people decide it’s not actually worth it to live here? Or will the spirit of this city, so publicly on display over the last few weeks, draw more of our ilk?
So many other people have written eloquent and loving tributes to this city. My feelings for Houston are so overwhelming that I don’t have the words right now to even articulate them. But what I can say is that I’ve never loved Houston more or been prouder of living here.
People across the world watched in disbelief as the people of Houston waded their way out of the storms, arm in arm. I always knew this city had it in her. Now the rest of the world knows too.