A Farewell Tour of Houston: From the Heights to Himalaya

How do you pack up eight years of life in one week?

By Hala Daher April 3, 2016

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Have you ever tried to pack houseplants?

Image: Shutterstock

Part 4 of a 5-part series on leaving behind the Bayou City after losing your job in oil and gas.

Moving sucks. There's no way around it. It's why I've avoided moving out of my Heights apartment for almost eight years. It didn't hurt that I had the best landlord in the world and paid well below market price for a sizable apartment. I always knew the only two things that could make me leave that bright apartment were if I decided to buy my own place or if I moved out of Houston.

With the layoff from my oil and gas gig, it was obvious that moving out of Houston would be the right choice for my situation, which meant letting that amazing apartment go. The biggest stressor of all, however, was that I decided to leave Houston just a week before the end of the month and my landlord already had a tenant lined up to move in on the first of the next month. So I hired movers, booked a storage space, and got down to the business of sorting through my stuff and packing. 

Despite adhering to what I believed to be a "minimalist" lifestyle, I soon realized I was actually a literal garbage person. I am not a hoarder, but it turns out I was living amongst bags and bags and bags of garbage—things I hadn't used in years, just sitting around collecting dust. The garbage was only half of it; after sorting through eight accumulated years of stuff, I also had piles of things to donate. Where did all of this come from? I made an appointment to have the Salvation Army pick up my discarded belongings and thought that would be it. Nope. Not even close. In the days that followed their pick-up, I still managed to produce more things destined for the dump or the donation bin.

There were some cherished items, however, I couldn't bear to give to the anonymous recipients at the Salvation Army, choosing instead to distribute them amongst my closest friends. Katharine got a leather tote bag filled with books, records and jewelry. Brandi got a beautiful leather jacket I bought in Paris in 2010—a jacket I loved but didn't suit me anymore. (Brandi looked way cooler in it anyways.) My dear friend Fayza got so much of my stuff: a pair of bright colored Adidas shoes that made all the cool boys holler, a few work dresses, old handbags, a stuffed monkey (her favorite animal), and a piece of costume jewelry that my late mother gifted to me many years ago. I don't wear it anymore and wanted someone I loved to have it. Luckily, it was exactly her style. She said she liked having all my things at her house because they reminded her of me. Cue the tears.

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If Himalaya isn't on your Houston bucket list, it should be.

Then came moving day. On a warm, humid, prototypically Houston day, 3 Men Movers showed up and moved all my furniture and boxes to a storage unit. The rest of my life—my clothes, my shoes and my Le Creuset kitchen items—were coming with me to Detroit. This minimalist managed to fill the entire trunk of her little Honda Civic with just shoes and handbags. I had three suitcases full of clothes. I won't tell people I'm a minimalist anymore. 

I headed to a friend's house on the west side to stick around for the rest of the week. I showered the grime and stress of moving day off me and took a long nap. When I woke up, she announced that she was taking me to Himalaya for dinner. Perfect. We ordered half the menu and managed to inhale the spicy Pakistani food within minutes. How else are you supposed to eat lamb biryani or chicken hara masala? Kaiser, the owner and every regular customer's de facto uncle, brought us dessert on the house as a parting gift. There was, as ever, so much love cooked into his food—the kind of warmth I knew would miss very much once I left Houston. 

The rest of the evening was spent at my friend's house, sharing a bottle of wine and good conversation. She showed off the new songs she'd learned to play on the guitar. She told us about her previous life in L.A. while her boyfriend entertained us with stories of his childhood in Texas City. It was a relaxing end to an emotional and hectic week.

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