Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Six years as a northerner makes me ready to see new things (And I'll tell you that I may be just as happy in Birmingham, Alabama or Merridian, Mississippi right now because it is The South I crave.)

I don't believe The South is about progress. I believe it is about keeping things whole.

Warm air makes you want to take your clothes off. Palm trees make you want to kick up your feet. And apartment complexes, some of them, especially the ones designed in courtyard fashion, make people want to congregate in the middle of it all. The other evening I had the good fortune of being led down a path, past a couple of iron gates, to the back building of "The BV."

We dropped our Lone Star longnecks in the fridge (Lone Star is big here. They have pretty, new, red, white & blue labels just the way Texans like it), and walked over to the two-story deck in the middle of the courtyard. We were elevated, sitting in wood-slatted beach chairs, being cooled by breeze and a spinning fan at the top of a high blue canvass cover.

The green of trees should be taken in at eye-level. It's as if someone has brought them to you. You sit amongst them, like Jane or Tarzan. Even though Houston's topography is flat and a little swampy, they are proud of their trees. My complex is plump with them. Magnolias, people, tall, graceful, with leaves so stately that they've been carved.

But there's something about a palm tree. I can't believe my luck everytime I'm able to lounge with one in sight. It's not the same with the ones towed in and planted for atmosphere. Those look like landscaping in Las Vegas. But living in a city where they actually belong because the balmy, sweaty sea air tells you so, you can't help but feel a little like you're on vacation in the evenings that belong to your regular work week.

One glorious glimpse so far. I could have kissed the tree trunk. I could have kissed the wooden beach chair. But instead, I just laid my head as far back as it could go, looked up into the blue, and appreciated that little moment in time.

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