Published May 9, 2023
For everything there is a season. That’s what they say anyway, in songs and scripture. But this is Houston, a seasonless city where fall and spring exist as concepts rather than on the calendar.
How do you measure time in a place where it’s so easy to forget which month you’re currently winding through?
I’ve learned to measure it in hours.
Houston by the hours
Houston had me at 11 p.m.
So many of my early memories of this city when I moved here eight years ago center around the waning hours of the night, just before Ubers begin to surge. A napkin-wrapped beer sweats into my palm while I raise my voice to talk to friends over the chorus of “Tamales! Tamales! Tamales!” ringing out behind me, the man known across Midtown selling husk-wrapped delicacies, pouring salsa from a repurposed Powerade bottle.
I’d clink bottles and think, How can it possibly get better than this?
At 11 p.m., you’re young. Sure, the night is technically about to end, but your plans will carry you into tomorrow in a way that makes you divorce ends from beginnings. Time is as circular and never-ending as the clock that tells it.
It doesn’t feel like that anymore.
Finding more time
My mom was 54 years old when she died. So was her mom. I think about that a lot. Too much, perhaps.
I already know that in this American dream life I’m building, I’m lucky enough to give my daughter so much more than my mom could give me in so many measurable ways. What I don’t know is if I’ll be able to give her more of the one thing my mom left me truly wanting: time.
Will I have more time?
Can I make more time?
The years are short, they say, but the days are long.
So I dissect my days, searching for places I can carve out more for her. And that’s when I discovered my favorite Houston.
My 8 a.m. season
At 8 a.m. every Sunday morning, my husband and I load our daughter and our aging dog, Teddy, into my Subaru for what we’ve begun calling our weekly Tedventure. We go to all of the places that can feel too crowded to bear in peak times: the Eastern Glades, Buffalo Bayou Park, Hermann Park, Willow Waterhole, the Columbia Tap Trail. We find parking seamlessly and join an entire segment of society I didn’t know existed during my 11 p.m. heyday.
A coffee cup rattles in the cupholder of our blue stroller, the occasional splatter escaping to join the pointillist painting being built drop by drop atop the stroller’s sunshade. I hear the crunch of dirt or gravel paths beneath increasingly balding tires as my daughter babbles a flood of syllables that sound a little more like words each week.
We’re not alone, despite what I would have assumed during my 11 p.m. years. The weekends are flush with an entire society of 8 a.m. families — mini parades of wagons and wagging tails joining the joggers while much of the city slumbers. We are living in the calm pause when so many others hit snooze, gazing at the morning sun between the branches of towering live oaks in those rare moments when you can look up without squinting.
And I feel remarkably at home — set in a place and time that feels as though it’s an extra hour in the day I hadn’t realized I could dare to enjoy.
The hours to come
I can’t imagine loving an hour in Houston the way I have grown to love 8 in the morning. But I’ve believed that before. It’s like saying you’ll never love your husband more than you do on your wedding day, then finding new, untapped corners of your heart when you see him dance through the nursery, holding a baby overhead, singing “Super Baby!”
Time will move forward, the way it does. Clocks will push from 8 a.m. to 9. Perhaps one day, I’ll love the rolling deadline of sunset the way I did back home — that golden fringe of the day when Mom and I would sneak away to our favorite ice cream stand. We’d try to beat time, racing the drip-drip of our ice cream cones, watching little vanilla droplets splatter along the handmade picnic table the way my coffee now splashes onto my daughter’s stroller.
Houston is also hiding new, untapped corners for me. I know it is. New hours I can’t even imagine at the moment, but soon will not be able to imagine living without. I know I can’t create more time. But I am also learning that this city will continue to share its secrets, helping me make more from the hours than I ever thought possible.
Share your Houston stories with me. We can start on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.