I’ve been trying to write a bit about the cities that I visit lately, and Houston is where I’m just flying out of now and all I can say is that I’m glad I’m on the end side of this trip instead of the beginning. I’ve been to and through Houston a number of times (one of the hazards of living in Texas, really), and I can’t think of a single reason to really recommend it. It’s always been hot & muggy, and somehow both incredibly sprawling and congested at the same time. The humidity/AC combo (it was 93 degrees today and wet) has the fantastic effect every time I walk outside of completely fogging up my glasses at least until I get into the car. Funny joke the city likes to play on me.
Today I’m on one of those flights where the sun is heading towards sunset and it feels like there’s a carpet of cotton candy clouds — I find that I keep staring out and just watch. such a textured, ephemeral, layered, light, heavy, big set of feelings when you look at them like this. Lately on flights I mostly get into a mode where I don’t notice the flying — I turn on my iPod, or open my laptop, and try to get from one place to another without thinking about how silly/impossible the idea of flying big boats in the air across the country is. But just now I’m thiking that I shouldn’t take it for granted.
For all the griping that I’ve done about flying, it’s something else entirely to think about how my grandfather lived, driving from town to town in the south. The idea that I can wake up Monday at home with Kathy, end up in Houston, spend all day Tuesday in meetings, then be home in time for a late dinner with Kathy again is amazing. A nice luxury to be sure. I suspect that I don’t get to know the places that I go as well as I’m sure my grandfather did, driving through them, and that’s too bad — when I think about his trips, or read books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, I can’t help but think that we’ve gone out of touch with a sense of place. It isn’t just flying, of course. It’s also the Interstates and the Internet, McDonald’s and Border’s, things like that. On the other hand, I’ll be awfully glad to be at home tonight with Kathy.
Then tomorrow off to Detroit. Another place that isn’t incredibly high on my list of destinations.