Today we fly to Houston to visit friends, our first return since moving to Washington three years ago. My youngest son, now eight, spent half his life in Houston. My happiest professional memories are associated with my job as the science writer for the engineering school at Rice University. Anecdotal Evidence started in Houston more than five years ago, and our cat adopted us there two months earlier. Houston is one of many former homes, all of them tentative and bolstering my sense of myself as a perpetual guest.
Adam Zagajewski has taught part of each year since 1988 in the writing program at the University of Houston. In an interview he expresses some of my thoughts about Houston and the possibility of belonging anywhere:
“I’m afraid I’m not a Texan yet. I’m trying. All my stays in Houston must have impregnated me with something, but I don’t think it’s the landscape. The cityscape of Houston is not inspiring for me. The human world is sometimes inspiring….I’m a recluse who loves the dialectic of being at the same time within and against a community.”
I look forward to revisiting favorite memories of the city – live oaks, ball moss, the guinea fowl in our old neighborhood, the defunct Pig Stand, Romano’s for pizza, a fire ant megalopolis, a dozen taquerias, the Fondren Library at Rice. Boswell transcribes a 1759 letter Johnson wrote to the son of an old friend in Lichfield, Johnson’s birthplace:
“A man unconnected is at home everywhere; unless he may be said to be at home no where.”