Houston, Sunday 7-2-95 1200 local (Z-5)
I'm in the Marriott right on Houston Intercontinental Airport, which means I'm really isolated from anything but the airport environment. I'm going to go running in a while, and that means I'll have to run on the terminal access roads - there are no sidewalks. In keeping with Houston's position as America's capital of the fossil fuel industry, dependence on motor vehicles is complete.
Yesterday evening I rented a car (cheap, $22 per day unlimited mileage) and took a nostalgic tour of Houston. Mark and I lived her for 8 months. He graduated from high school at Alief, a Houston suburb. At the risk of becoming too nostalgic (there's a word for that, is it "maudlin"?), I'll recount some of my feelings on arrival here and while driving 99 miles around the city last night.
C.J., remember my taking you to the airport after the week long Aramco orientation? You were returning to Oregon that morning. Later that day I was to return to the same airport (Houston has several) to get on a TWA charter to Saudi Arabia. You and I have gone through a number of partings during our years together. For me that parting was one of the hardest (but not THE hardest, that distinction is reserved for that day at the dam when you turned right to go to school, and I turned left to drive to Houston). Anyway, American Airlines now uses the terminal you left from for Oregon, and I used American yesterday to jumpseat from Miami to Houston.
Except for the 3 times C.J. came to see me during my time is Houston, I was basically miserable - totally out of my element, lonely, and homesick. Speaking of partings, each time C.J. came to see me, the joy of her being here would be couterbalanced by the pain of her leaving. It was like my feelings about seeing my children when my first wife and I parted. I would want to see them so badly, but I knew that when I left them it would simply freshen the pain.
Well, I drove south to the city center, and went by Brown's Bookstore, the equivalent of Powell's in Portland. Actually, I think the full name is Brown's Technical Bookstore. It used to be a comfort to go there because it was an island of order in what for me at the time was a sea of chaos. I didn't have any money to buy anything, didn't really need to buy anything, but I would spend hours browsing. The nice thing about technical subjects is that objectivity reigns, subjectivity is left behind...most comforting at times.
Also, drove to Aramco's old U.S. headquarters on Milam, then drove west on Westheimer, toward where I used to work and where Mark and I lived. One morning in 1981, I drove Westheimer to Aramco's headquarters in a state of high elation. I thought I had an appointment with Aramco's aviation department manager and that there was an honest chance that I could fly for them. I spent 6 hours waiting in his outer office, only to finally be refused a chance to even speak with him. I returned down Westheimer in a state of deep despair. I did something that evening I had never done before or since, I used a drug to ease my pain. I stopped at a liquor store, bought a bottle of wine, and when I got home drank enough to become slightly inebriated. C.J., you may remember me calling you that night. I think I started our conversation with words like, "I am ever so slightly drunk."
Mark, Luther's is still there, and it's still called Luther's. For the rest of you, Luther's is where Mark worked. It's still a BBQ restaurant. I drove by the apartment where Mark and I lived, and also by the office in which I worked. In those days, these places were at the west edge of Houston. Now the city extends well beyond that area. I continued westbound to find out how far, but ran into highway 6 before I reached the end of the developed area. Westheimer to Hwy 6 to Interstate 10 was the route Mark and I took out of town when we left Houston, and I wanted to follow the same route, which I did. The intersection of Interstate 10 and Hwy 6 had special meaning for me when I lived here. I used to regularly go through the intersection, but I was never turning west onto Interstate 10. That was the way home to Oregon, and I so very much wanted to do that. Mark, I don't know if I said anything when we went through that intersection when we actually did return to Oregon, but I was certainly thinking a lot about it. By the way, remember having to jettison your bicycle because we couldn't fit it into the Dasher? I paused for a moment as I drove by where we used to park the Dasher, and where you gave the bicycle to your friend since we couldn't fit it in.
Saw the Guest Quarters, a hotel of suites where Mark and I stayed for the first few days on our arrival here, also the Adam's Mark hotel where we stayed for a week or so while finding an apartment. C.J., I also drove past that hotel of apartments that we stayed in when you came down for the week of orientation. Finally, I called you from the shopping center around Luther's. After that I drove back to the airport. Okay, enough of Houston nostalgia. Good memories about the place? None really except Mark's graduation.
As mentioned, I jumpseated on American from Miami to Houston. An uneventful flight except for pleasant conversation and one chance to help the operating crew. Miami ground control told them to join up behind a "company ATR", which means another American flight, an ATR 42 type aircraft. They kind of missed the call and started to join up behind an American Saab (yes, Saab makes airplanes). I pointed out the problem and saved them a slight embarrassment.
We're leaving at 0100 local tomorrow. First stop will be Port of Spain, Trinidad. It's an added stop (things keep changing). Trinidad is an island just of the northeast corner of South America, somewhere around 10 degree of north latitude.
Time to run and then back to bed...Terry