I last visited Houston in 2001 for my 20th class reunion just a week before 9/11. Prior to that, I last visited in 1984.
I learned to drive in boomtown Houston, lots of traffic, aggressive drivers, shotguns and open beer cans. Today, thanks to the construction of two large toll roads, it seems to be easier to get around. 610 loop is still there, but Beltway 8 has replaced it as the main suburban loop. FM 1960 can be up to 7 lanes wide, and the Velvet Ghetto I came from is more like a real ghetto now.
Suburban flight now goes up to The Woodlands, a mammoth planned development which was still just getting off the ground in 1977, when we first moved to the area. While mocked by the hipsters that live 'in town', I could see myself living in just this type of area. Lots of shopping, lots of things to do, a riverwalk, office buildings, hotels, and even an outdoor venue for concerts.
My friend, David, and I were invited to an informal get together on Saturday. Hosted by Linda (see First Kiss blog 2 1/2 years ago) and her husband, Joe, in attendance was Lori, the one that broke (crushed, removed, stomped, etc) my heart so very long ago. We're all still friends. I think being friends with Lori was pre-destined...escalating the relationship as we did in the early '80's was not meant to be.
Meeting up with Lori, even 25 years after the fact, can be somewhat anxiety producing. Perhaps she symbolizes what can happen when I make dumb mistakes. Perhaps she is the symbol of some ideal that I thought I was entitled to in my romantic youth. I'm not sure.
This time, however, the years have cleared my vision quite a bit. Lori is Lori. Petite, blond, perky. At 44 however, she's becoming her mom: prim, proper, and almost matricarchal. I think for the first time in the 30 years I've known her, I question what my attraction was. Well, I know what my attraction was, I guess now I feel a whole lot better about myself for the way things turned out. She's still petite, blond and perky. But I realize that she isn't some type of 'standard' that I should be measuring myself against.
I'm hopelessly in love with my wife. She is a better match for me than Lori ever could be. I think I spent a lot of time thinking that it was some deficiency on my part that never met Lori's expectations. I will never meet her expectations, but it's not because there is something deficient in me. It was just never meant to be.