I was watching the sun set on South Miami Beach, relaxing on the sand for a second time that week after a long day of work, when it hit me. Even with most perfect sea breeze hitting my face, surrounded by some of the nicest people I’d ever met, it didn’t feel right. I wasn’t on the seaweed-ridden beaches of Galveston. I wasn’t sitting next to some of my best friends.
It was a Thursday. I missed my mom. I missed my friends. But, maybe, worst of all, I missed Houston.
I had never lived anywhere else other than Houston until this past summer. I was born at Northwest Medical off of FM 1960, moved from Oak Forest to Tomball when I was three, and stayed in town for college (Go Coogs). Houston was home, and I hated it.
Maybe it was because I was bored of my surroundings or maybe it was because I’d spent 21 years in the same place and my head was ready to explode from the monotony of it . Whenever people making conversation asked me whether or not I liked Houston, I answered with a “Uh, yeah, it’s nice. I just want to go somewhere else.”
“You need to leave. Get out. Go far away,” said my college adviser, Ana, when I told her I had started applying for summer internships. Little did she know everywhere I had already applied to was out of state. There wasn’t a chance I was going to be stuck in Houston for another summer when seemingly every single one of my Facebook friends were jet-setting to France and Italy, while I still had no internships under my belt.
When an offer letter for an internship in Miami arrived in March, I didn’t hesitate. I booked housing almost immediately. I planned my trip to and from – an 18-hour, two-day road trip through five states – with my parents. Everything was set for the big day. I was nervous but excited.
Me and my mom started the road trip at 5 a.m. on a Friday. After two grueling, rain-filled days, we found Miami. “That’s it?” I asked when I saw its relatively smaller downtown skyline. “Where’s the rest of it?” My mom looked at me like I was crazy. In hindsight, it was the first of many differences I noticed, but I was too eager to start my life free of Houston to care.
A month into my internship, I sat on that beach and almost cried over how much I missed home. And my dogs. And good Mexican food that wasn’t Chipotle. Really and truly, I’d taken advantage of all the things Houston had to offer. And it took me a month to admit it.
Still, I didn’t fully realize how much I missed Houston until another intern pointed it out rather bluntly one afternoon, sitting at a conference table in Intern HQ discussing our days. Deep into conversation, I mentioned something about how we call access roads “feeders.”
“Jeez, Glissette, can’t you go a day without talking about Houston?” one intern asked.
“Do I really talk about it every day?” Murmurs of Yes and Yeah, all the time quickly followed.
A surprise Fourth of July weekend trip by my family made me feel a bit better, but as soon as they left, the widening hole between me and Houston kept growing. I was counting down the days until I could get back to Texas. After three months in Miami, my dad finally flew in one Friday to start the drive back home with me; we left the next day and before I knew it, we were sitting in traffic on I-10 near Beaumont.
“Please!” I yelled at the cars in front of us. “I just want to get home!” My dad chuckled.
Traffic subsided – the stupid kind where people slow down going up a hill – and I raced home to be greeted with hard hugs from my siblings and gracious licks from my dogs in the foyer of our home. I visited my best friend later that afternoon. I pulled up to his driveway and found him waiting for me on his front porch, and he hugged me for the first time in years.
“I missed you,” I said.
“And you just ruined it.” He replied. I wasn’t going to find snark like that anywhere but home.
He listened to me talk for a while about why I missed home, and he asked me about what I liked about Miami. The people were nice, I said, but it wasn’t Texas.
I still don’t know if the saying “Home is where the heart is” is true. If it is, I’m glad I figured it out early because I’m sure there’s people out there that haven’t. And Houston? You’ll have my heart forever, I promise.