Dear Houston,

I’m not really sure how to say all of the things I need to say to you. I have lived inside of your melting pot, your palm leaves, your concrete jungle for two years. And now I am preparing to leave.

I moved to Houston because I was in love. I was in that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World series kind of love (if you’ve seen It Takes Two you know what I’m talking about). It was real. It was raw. I’d never felt that intense of a love for anything in my life, so it felt like the last thing I wanted to do was to lose it. I finally felt seen. I followed my girlfriend, the love of my life, to Houston. I didn’t have any qualms about moving here. I also didn’t particularly like Houston or know anything about it.

All I knew was that I didn’t want to lose her. My first real Houston memory was not a good one. I’d been to Houston a few times prior to this, but when I look back, this is what I remember of Houston. I’d gotten a job, signed a lease, and was moving to Houston in August. Mid-July (two years ago), I found out my girlfriend cheated on me a while ago and never told me. I was visiting her in Houston at the time, and while she worked all day after this was revealed, I drove around Houston sobbing. I was just trying to find somewhere to be. A space to not feel so alone and to try to turn my world right side up again. I remember sitting in Hermann Park and sobbing into my hands. A homeless man came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I just sat there for a while. Trying to figure out a way that everything could be okay again. Wondering if okay even existed anymore.

That is my first real memory of Houston. Not such a great start, huh? Well I decided not to break up with my girlfriend, we would try to work things out (and ultimately fail). I’m glad I decided to stay. I’m glad I decided to give Houston a chance even when I felt like my heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces. Mostly because Houston has shown me more about what it is to be human than any other place I’ve lived (and I’ve lived a lot of places). Houston has shown me absolute joy and absolute pain, sometimes simultaneously. It has shown me that not everything is as black and white as it might seem. That life is hard. Really hard.

Houston has shown me that sometimes you have to lose everything you think you need and want to understand that you never really wanted or needed that at all. That sometimes love is painful and not worth fighting for. That if you are enough for yourself, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t enough for other people. That when your relationship with yourself suffers, so do all your other relationships.

My time in Houston has been wrought with good memories too though. I have accomplished so much in these two years. I have felt like part of a community. I have danced my butt off until the wee hours of the morning. I have eaten pizza on a street corner. I have made a home in a place that didn’t feel like home for a long time. I have still not won a game of Thursday night bingo in the Heights (womp womp!). I replaced the hurt in my heart with happiness. I learned to love myself. I spent many evenings talking with some of the best people I know. I have lived.

I’ve gone through some of the most difficult parts of my life here in Houston. Two years doesn’t seem like a long time on paper, but when you count the hours, minutes, seconds; it feels like a mini lifetime. A lifetime I have been proud to live. I have grown. I have learned. I have loved.

Thank you Houston. Thank you for all the sleepless nights. Thank you for all the heartache. Thank you for bearing my burdens when I couldn’t hold them any longer. Thank you for teaching me how to be me again. Thanks for embracing me and letting me call you home. I’m off to Washington D.C., but a piece of me will always be here. A piece of who I used to be, that I leave behind. Thank you for everything you gave me.

I love you Houston.

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