Travel has been my friend. It not only makes it possible for me to see new places, have new experiences and envision the world from other than my little corner of Georgia, it takes me to see the people I love so very much, a.k.a., my children! This past weekend I had the long-overdue and exciting pleasure to visit my youngest daughter in Houston. Abbie moved to Houston about four years ago (or is it five?) and has made quite a name for herself in the burgeoning art scene there. This past weekend she and her studio mate opened their new space for the first time for the community to come out and shop, enjoy some amazing refreshments, and to mingle. Here's how it all went down...
I tightened my seatbelt as my flight sat quietly on the runway just seconds away from takeoff. I don't especially love taking off. Even though it's exhilarating in its own kind of way, I feel much relief when my choice of travel reaches 12,000 feet and enters into a sort of "smooth sailing" as it nears its cruising altitude. I tend to think others might feel the same way because there is all kinds of chatter going on as the plane makes its way to the tarmac but, upon its stop to quietly idle for takeoff, everyone enters into this sort of silent reverence. I don't know if it's fear or if it's out of respect for the majesty of the big bird about to soar everyone away to a place of our choosing. Either way, I am glad when the quietness descends because this is usually when I am raising a prayer!
Upon our arrival into Houston airspace:), I snapped this image with my iphone. Houston is a huge city (4th largest in the nation after New York, L.A., and Chicago) and the vast area it covers is obvious as you cruise over the downtown area approaching Hobby. It's been two years since I visited Abbie in this metropolis she calls home, and that's waaaaaaaay too long. As the plane made its final descent, I wondered how I could have let my baby girl move to such a large unknown city without batting an eyelash. But my baby girl is brave. So much braver than her mama. And so, without even thinking about it, I tightened my belt again. And after everyone sighed relief upon landing (you know they did), I struck up a very short conversation with the beautiful young woman sitting next to me. There's something about landing together in a plane that gives you a sort of bond, even if it's only for a couple of minutes! As it turned out, she too is moving to Houston for her career, she is about Abbie's age, and she too has a mom at home in Georgia fretting about her baby girl being so far away from her. I told Erin to tell her mom that she will definitely be okay. If I can survive it, anyone can survive it. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
I read recently that Houston has several epicenters because of the intentional lack of city planning, but it has turned out to be a pretty good arrangement according to the article. I don't know exactly why but in my mind I'm assuming that, for the locals, it makes Houston more easily navigated and breaks up the horrendous traffic that is prevalent in any large city. Abbie picked me up in her little Honda Accord and flew me to the hotel where I felt like I might need a stiff drink upon arrival! But no worries, we checked in, then ventured into midtown where we ate pizza at one of our favorite italian "holes in the wall" and then back to the hotel where we drifted into lala land to the tune of HGTV. The next morning we made our way to her studio space for mama to experience for the very first time, but not before we had coffee at one of her favorite cafes, Tout Suite. I would recommend this place over and over again for its downtown industrial aesthetic, the great coffee, and a pastry case filled with the most heavenly delights you could ever feast your eyes upon! We went back for lunch the next day and it too was delicious. If you visit Houston, you gotta go to Tout Suite. After a few serene hours watching Abbie work a bit and prepare for the next day, we headed to pick up Hollie flying in all the way from Tegucigalpa, a whirlwind trip for Hollie but a gesture of pure gold in the love it represented to her little sis. Dinner was at a friend's house, where we celebrated Abbie's birthday and enjoyed downhome Houston hospitality. Cupcakes by Tout Suite!
Saturday was the day of the studio warming. As you might expect, it was packed with last minute things to do...a trip to Trader Joe's for flowers and wine...final studio preparations for the evening... By the time I returned to the hotel to shower and dress, I was already a bit worn out but at the same time energized for the evening's activities to come. I was a proud mama. Now this is where I get to brag on my girl, and I'm allowed since this is my blog, haha! Abbie is one of the most gracious, loving young women I know. She has a serenity about her in interacting with people that makes me so proud. She sees every single person, no matter their race or socioeconomic status, as her equal. As her work associates and friends and strangers alike filed in and out that evening, her smile and kindness flowed out to her guests and no one -- not one -- wasn't acknowledged, and her graciousness was awarded with the outpouring of support from her Houston family. I kicked back and breathed it all in. And then I took a walk around the other studios open in her building to see what else was coming down. And, I'm telling you, if you've never been to an art event in the middle of a large city where art is the reigning queen, you gotta do it, because it's an eye-opening experience and there are myriad sites to see. You see all walks of people, all ethnicities, people rich and poor, everything from doctors to the lowly, blended together by the common thread of the love of art. I see the power of art to bring people together like I've never seen it before.
Needless to say, the weekend was a success. I boarded my plane back to Atlanta Sunday evening, but not without a great satisfaction of having been, having done, and having thrived in a weekend filled with love and friendship. And, of course, not without first tightening my seatbelt.
Thanks, Houston, for your hospitality. It was truly three days I will never forget.
Posted by CC
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