My hometown is under water. Parts of it, anyway. Places that hold sweet, buttercream memories . . . places that hold my history. As I write this, I feel helpless and small. Dear friends have lost their homes. Some have lost their lives. And I can’t help but ask the question so many others have asked, throughout the past week, throughout the ages.
I don’t have an answer. Even if I did, it wouldn’t change the devastation that’s occurred in the city of my childhood, in the state that carries my heart. As I watch the news footage of houses and street signs I recognize, each clip, each reel reminds me of places and events I don’t want to see washed away.
I learned to drive on those streets. Hours and hours, just Daddy and me, getting on and off I-45, on and off, on and off, until he was sure I could handle the Houston freeways.
I had birthday parties at Peppermint Park. Those rides were the best!
I played little league at Dow Park. The Comanches. Right field. Do you know how many eleven-year-old girls hit balls to right field? Not many—which explains why my coach put me there.
The first time a boy held my hand was at Bethel Baptist Church on Tidwell Road.
I had my first kiss at Airline Skating Rink. More than one date at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in the Galleria.
And oh. My. Word. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Po-boy sandwich from Antone’s on T.C. Jester. There’s no way to describe the taste, since most of you don’t have a point of reference from which to draw. Let’s just say an Antone’s Po-boy is like manna from heaven smeared with happy sauce.
And who can forget the line, several blocks long, to get a pie from the Flying Saucer Pie Company? We could never buy just one. Or even two. How that tiny building kept up with the business it generated is a mystery that can only be explained by one thing: fairies. I believe fairies lived behind those swinging kitchen doors and made those pies. It’s the only explanation.
I could go on . . . my mind already has . . . but I don’t need to. Each misty memory leads me back to the same question.
But maybe that’s not the right question to ask. Maybe, instead of asking an impossible question that will never provide a satisfying answer, I should just be still. Just watch.
In the midst of unspeakable tragedy, there is beauty that might never be realized without just such an opportunity.
In the wake of Harvey, I’ve seen people from the farthest reaches of the political spectrum come together in a joint effort of human decency, compassion, and love. I’ve watched those who might have declared themselves mortal enemies a week ago work side by side as members of the same team. I’ve seen competitors become colleagues, adversaries become allies, and foes become friends.
Houston, you are tough. Texas, you are invincible. We will come back from this. In the meantime, let us glean whatever good we can. In the eye of the hurricane, in the center of the storm, we have found peace.
“He stilled the storms to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed,” Psalm 107:29.
Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.