Monday, June 22, 2009
Or: In the Hub, but out of the Loop
About 7:00 a.m. on June 16, 2009, I took one last look around the house in Houston, placed the keys on a shelf for our landlady, and left for good. With the click of the door as I shut it, fifteen memorable years in the greatest city in America drew to a close for me as did my twenty-four years as a citizen of the Lone Star State.
A variety of unforeseen circumstances ranging from the absurd to the excruciating ate up huge swaths of valuable time during my remaining two weeks there. On the Monday of my return, the impossibility of opening my email while at my old job eventually led to my discovery that an administrative glitch had prematurely ended my employment there.
An old childhood injury, not to be outdone, saw that headache and didn't just raise. It went all in. I discovered two days later that I am now a member of an elite fraternity: Those who have had dental implants fail. Depending on where I look, that happens with between one and ten percent of all dental implants. At least the failure became evident before the prosthetic and crown were installed. I am grateful that my oral surgeon will be installing a replacement free of charge in a few months, after I heal.
So there would be no grand round of final visits to favorite haunts on that last week. Too, my plans for a photographic retrospective of Houston to be posted automatically here, as I attended my class last week, went by the wayside.
In lieu of the photographic retrospective, at least for now, I commend my readers to Brian Phillips's series of five posts, "Houston: The City I Love," over at Live Oaks. Allow me to flesh out one highlight from the second of these:
[W]here land-use controls and other regulations on building are most restrictive, housing is more expensive, and often outrageously so. The consequences of these controls are not limited to home ownership -- they impact the cost of doing business, and indeed the cost of living.Remember that house I left behind in H-Town? Three bedrooms and a ten to fifteen minute drive for my wife to work. Our apartment in the Hub of the Universe allows her a subway commute of similar duration, but it is a tiny two-bedroom and costs us over two and a half times as much. And yes, I sold off both cars. It would cost more than the monthly payment on a new car just to park one here.
Most people would say that Boston has a higher cost of living than Houston, but that's a cliche that allows people not to think too much about the underlying causes. I have been aware of this discrepancy ever since my Navy days, when I was stationed briefly in a couple of blue states. Since then, I have always put it more like this: "Boston has a lower standard of living than Houston."
Having said all that, the class went well, although I don't plan to discuss exactly what it was about any time soon, and for all its intrusive government, Boston does promise to be a fascinating and enjoyable place. But I do need to solve a topological conundrum before too long: It's called "unpacking!"