This was my second trip to Houston. Since my last visit my friend and host had experienced major health problems eventually necessitating a liver transplant. Although his energy level is uneven he was well on the mend, eagerly anticipating my visit.
I have a friend from my Caribbean cruise who also lives in Houston. Several weeks ago he was in Chicago for a period too brief to allow me to meet up with him. Since I last saw him he has found a new man in his life, something of which he is richly deserving. I was to have dinner with them during my time in Texas along with the person they stayed with in my hometown. It is a recurring theme, my meeting fellow Chicagoans when I travel.
I have attempted to keep myself from feeling too culpable for my friends health issues, even though they began during my last visit. He assured me that all his organs would be in good working order this time.
So, early on a Wednesday morning I left my apartment on Chicago's far north side enroute to O'hare airport. A white, just past full, moon hung in a blue sunlit sky. As I transferred from one bus to the next I passed by a building undergoing renovations. The businesses operating there have had to create temporary signage for their establishments. "Dynasty Insurance" has resorted to a small paper sign in their window. It is somewhat unfortunate that a corner of the sign has folded over and now reads "Nasty Insurance". Heading west I am once again reminded of the architectural and visual riches of my hometown. The intricate spires of gothic revival churches loom over streets lined with vintage two flats and bungalows, their yards bright with summer flowers. Towering venerable trees provide shade. The Chicago river, it's banks lush with foliage, flows through a verdant city park. A forest preserve, surrounded by the city, speaks to the "green" nature of Chicago, sometimes called "The City in a Garden".
As the plane takes off the view transitions from the silhouette of a metropolis with it's formidable highrises to small houses set among a patchwork of fields, the rich prairie soil ideal for growing many different crops. Wednesday, due to my waking up at an absurdly early hour, I plan to settle in and relax. Thursday I had requested to see the downtown highrise district, missed on my previous visit, followed by my dinner with my cruise friend that evening. The weekend would be spent at a camp in the Texas hill country. 3 of us would be making that trip, myself, my host and a friend of his who at one time kept a weekend trailer home at the campground. Sunday night would be spent in San Antonio, touring the city the following day before driving back to Houston and returning to Chicago on Tuesday.
Although I had packed a pair of jeans in the gym bag serving as my suitcase, they were a purely precautionary measure. Having to don a suit and tie every workday I was determined to wear shorts and shirts without sleeves during my entire stay. The only exception to this was the v neck gray tee shirt I brought for Thursday evening. When someone is being gracious and generous enough to have you to dinner completely bare arms could be seen by some as disrespectful.