Ode to Houston: My Family of 6 Million

My Houston experience, and why you should root for the Astros.

Kindness and hospitality at every turn. That’s what surprised me most when my family moved to Houston from Arizona in June 2016. It felt like we’d landed in a city of 6 million friendly neighbors—and to be honest, it weirded me out a little bit. In Arizona I hardly knew my neighbors. In Houston, it feels like everyone is my neighbor.

Last July, while finishing a meal at Jackson Street BBQ (adjacent to the Astros’ Minute Maid Park), one of the bussers chatted with my family. Upon discovering we were new to Houston, he gave us the warmest Southern welcome, along with some extra potato salad for the road. It wasn’t a typical customer–employee interaction. He was a proud Houstonian excited to introduce his beloved home to a family of newcomers—he just happened to be our busser.

That experience felt more like a warm family gathering at a grandparent’s home than dining at a restaurant. In 33 years of living in Arizona I rarely felt that measure of hospitality, yet it only took a few weeks for Houston to gather us into its arms and adopt us as its own.

My family at Discovery Green’s Super Bowl festivities in January.

What I’ve discovered about Houston since last summer is that it’s a city who welcomes everyone. From the folks who have lived here for generations, to the newcomers looking for a strong economy to plug into, it’s the largest, most diverse family you’ll ever meet.

Houston is a messy amalgamation of every kind of person, that’s like your favorite homemade soup. You toss in a bunch of random ingredients, and you’re not sure why it works, but it does.

This familial love was displayed to the world in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It wasn’t that a natural disaster brought out the best of Houston, it was simply Houstonians being Houstonians. The rest of the world finally had front row seats to witness what I’d come to love about Houston over the last year: Houston is family.

What we see in our daily news cycle about racial division and hate across America doesn’t match the everyday life here in the Houston metro. We are the most diverse city in the United States, and we generally get along.

My young son attends a Christian martial arts program in our Houston suburb, along with two young girls who wear hijabs with their gis, and all hell does NOT break loose. No one tells them to leave. No one mocks or scorns them. They are welcomed just like every other child. Can you believe that in our Texas suburb, Christians and Muslims get along? More than that, they spend time together. But you won’t find that making headlines.

In my Houston suburb, you see black families and white families get along so well that you’d question everything you see on CNN. You experience kindness from strangers of all races. You do find the occasional tire thief, reprehensible driving manners and traffic (it’s painful, I won’t lie) and plenty of other crime to go around. It isn’t all roses, but we don’t let the thorns define us.

As the Astros continue their World Series showdown against the Dodgers, I invite the rest of America to join me in cheering them on, and become part of what I’ve discovered to be a tight-knit group of 6 million resilient, strong, scrappy overcomers from all walks of life.

Houston never gives up. Let’s go Astros! #EarnHistory #HoustonStrong

My kiddos at an Astros game in July.