Project Row Houses, Houston, Texas

It’s not too frequently that I find the opportunity to see the forest from the trees; that I step back and appreciate larger themes that I am able to learn from. Maybe they aren’t truly the largest universal revelations, but they are significant by comparison to getting wrapped up in the routine of our lives, effectively narrowing our vision from that of just whatever is next. And this year, more than most has appeared to provide less work life balance for me, despite working remotely in my current role. Fortunately, this week has provided me exactly an opportunity to breathe more freely at a bit of a distance.

Owning a home, at this stage in my life still feels like a longer term dream. I’m in my thirties, in an established career watching friends in similar situations making the same kinds of decisions about home ownership. I question whether or not it is my own standards for what I would like to move into after apartment living over the past decade, my faith in trusting/subscribing to the housing market (especially living in a spectacularly hurricane prone region), my commitment to working a job that will afford said home for another 15-20 years or a combination of any of these factors. Yet I am warming up to the idea maybe now more than ever with the arrival of my daughter.

The Project Row Houses provide from their location in Third Ward not only art and career advancement training, neighborhood outreach, but residential services for young mothers.

I first learned of PRH when I was leading mission trips around the city of Houston. The art installations that spoke to the experiences and history of the artists blossoming from one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods. PRH supports enrichment of cultural identity and it’s impact on the urban landscape. While Covid 19 has currently eclipsed some of the artist residency exhibition viewing hours, as the area reopens, I encourage all Houston visitors and residents to check out PRH.

Houston is a city which has historically been shaped by gentrification and gerrymandering. Gentrification driving rent/property values higher and higher to oust existing residents to demolish structures and create anew before gerrymandering to redraw political district lines to further ensure representation of the new constituents. To say that race and socioeconomic status has played no role would be to deny the decades of the roots of these issues.

However, while there is not a clear reparation for the actions of the past, it is clear that platforms for voices of differing cultures to be heard and displayed.

Ultimately, this week as I was looking for yet another song about homes, it occurred to me that in the long run, I think that we are all looking for our own place to call home. Maybe that is a destination. Maybe that is a structure in a specific zip code. Maybe that ideal changes over time as we get older. But, as I step back the more I have also realized that for me, home is less a location than a feeling; an unwavering and unconditional welcome.

The track this week is “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The 45 pressing I obtained is a demo version of the song. In the fully produced track there is a whistle portion of the melody. I was introduced to a cover of the original by Jorge Narvaez and his Elementary aged daughter Alexa as they competed on America’s Got Talent a few years ago. Sweetly, Alexa asks if she can join the her father’s whistle as he motions no, directing instead the rest of the song as he strums an acoustic guitar. The song still stands the test of time with a solid refrain that pulls at the heartstrings every time.

A friend recently complimented my writing style, that these blog posts showed a level of optimism and comfort in the person I have become. I am grateful for the compliment. There are days when I wake up with a serious doubt that some of the physical brick and mortar dreams I have will ever happen in my timing. But, I have confidence that regardless of what the future holds, I can grasp tightly to creating a place of welcome in any surrounding. That home can be whenever I am with you.

Let’s take care of one another, y’all.

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