Spring is a time of transitions. Summer hours are posted on the student center doors, and there is talk of trailer sizes around the dinner table. The leaves are blooming, but in Houston the humidity is becoming oppressive. For the first time in months we close our windows despite the shrieking protests made by their tracks, dust-filled and weathered open. Air conditioning returns, bringing memories of Shanghai’s summers, and the weeks spent entirely indoors.
It is not just Houston, though, that is in transition. The city’s occupants, or those I have met, are thrust headlong into summer, their collegiate careers ended in a flourish of family and mortarboards. Watching them, in bars with friends who will soon be distant, I can almost feel experience relaxing me. As they sit on the floor, those who still have housing hosting those whose who do not, making art in the long afternoons of the comfortably unemployed, I smile, and head to work. It is a stark reversal of the past few months, where I would linger over coffee in the mornings as they rushed to class or to the studio, prepped presentations or wrote finals. It is a good exchange we have made, them content and constantly smiling and myself just barely busy, biking to work with no hands and home again for lunch with good company.
The gift of age, then, has descended on me, eight years removed from my own panicked post-graduation summer. “Don’t go home,” I can say with confidence to those debating their direction. “You can go anywhere for a while, and you’ll miss your friends dreadfully. Stay here and see people until you’re ready to leave.” The advice isn’t novel, nor particularly family-oriented, but it comes from observation rather than prediction. “You’ll get a job, you’ll still make art,” I offer, seeing nervous fears arise. Somewhere in the future both are true, though difficult to keep in sight amidst a quest for housing and storage, for interviews and incomes.
Houston is a different city in the summer than the late winter and early spring, which were beyond treasure, and I understand at last some advice that was offered me a month before. The woman had asked where I was from, the north east, and my opinion of my new home. I was pleasantly surprised, I said, and am, and remarked at the glory of a February spent in sandals and jeans. I would be moving on, I told her, but was happy for the months here.
“Then it’s time to go,” she said, “before the summer gets here. Leave while you’ve got a good impression.”
We laughed, and two weeks ago some friends took her advice, departing post-haste almost without pulling off their gowns, their lives boxed and packed before the ceremony, apartments emptied and bare.
Yet here I sit, on the floor of my apartment while those who remain tell stories and grow closer over tattoos and adventures, and I am glad of it. The month may have given me a taste of humid weather, but it has also given me a sense of time and composure, both good things to take from this city on our approaching homeless tour of the west coast.
And of Houston, like my own graduation years before, I still have fond memories.