8/20 – 8/22
Humble and Houston, Texas
I made it!
At long last, I pulled into the Humble driveway and was immediately surrounded with joyful hugs before being ushered into the house by my Uncle Bobby and Aunt Donna. Soon we all sat in the living room, swapping updates and stories until becoming absorbed by the computer and TV. From both the news and my aunt and uncle, I soon learned that Texas was in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave. Not only was it hard to remember the last time it had rained – even sprinkled – the area was just a couple days short of breaking the record for the number of consecutive days where temperatures reached over 100 degrees. When the local news showed footage of a dusting of rain nearby, Donna eagerly shouted “Look Bob, rain!”
Before long, I was thankfully passed out in the first bed I had seen since Las Vegas.
The next day I woke up a little late. The wear of travel had degraded me a little more than I expected and it was hard to move from underneath the covers within the darkened room. After several wake-up calls that I never got, Donna finally roused me out of bed at around 10 or 11. I wolfed down a few pancakes as my cousins arrived and then darted off to an Astros game with them.
It was free t-shirt day for kids 12 and under, so naturally as the rest of my family walked through the turnstile I was handed the white, Astros emblazoned gear. I had never been in a closed stadium before. Baseball feels like a sport that just doesn’t belong indoors – but I quickly adapted as the sweltering hundred degree breaking heat gave way to the pleasant air conditioning. We snuggled in to the plastic fold-down seats, made fun of the little hill and flag poles in the corner of the official, still playable field, and began to watch the action. The various crowd entertainments were all different from those of the Norfolk Tides. There was the Kiss Cam (which Donna lamented her and Bob had never been on), random faceless people with their entire body covered in bright-colored spandex dancing on the jumbotron, and a costumed railroad worker doing classic white-boy moves on the edge of the model choo choo train loaded with hundreds of Minute Maid oranges. The seventh inning stretch played not only God Bless America and the “cracker jack song” but also included Deep In the Heart of Texas. After some wild dives and joyful home runs, the game was tied at the end of the 9th, forcing the game to continue into sudden death. We stayed for one more inning, but the grumbling of stomachs soon began and we left for a local Mexican Restaurant hoping the Astros would pull through.
After dinner we all nestled back into my uncle’s couches, full and content. Though I am incredibly gullible and at times easily fooled, I can point to very few moments in my life where I have been legitimately surprised. This was one of those moments. From around the corner, Donna, who had been shuffling in the kitchen for several minutes, suddenly emerged with a glowing cookie cake, my name scrawled in glorious green and white icing letters across the front. In addition to a broad smile, my face soon also became adorned with a chocolate line stretching from cheek to cheek beside a corresponding milk mustache. I became even more stuffed, happy with the wonderful end to the evening. I cannot thank my family enough for all of that they do for me.
The next morning I got a much earlier start. My grandmother had already called the house twice that morning before I woke up and soon called a third time to be one of the first to wish me a Happy 21st. She sounded a combination of proud and overjoyed, though cautioned me against going crazy in New Orleans. Before long I was packed and ready to leave, and after an exchange of hugs and directions, I was on the road again.