There are three lots on my block which recently have had their houses demolished.
Two of the lots are nearing the end of construction on their new houses, and the third has, so far, sat empty for a while.
Just about every morning, around 7:30, workers arrive and get to making noise on this, that, or the other part of construction for the two houses.
I have noticed a certain inattention to caution regarding trash and scraps, and so have been quite careful not ever to walk over by either of the houses, as there is an ever-changing blanket of glass, nails, wood pieces, and other sharp objects on the ground by them both.
Today, in an effort to dodge some potholes, my mother drove directly in front of these two houses…
A few hours, a free concert, and almost five hundred dollars later, she had two new rear tires on her car, out of necessity, not desire.
You see, she was picking me up to go to an opera performance, thus her being on my street in the first place.
She had dropped me off to allow me to go use the bathroom and to pick up our tickets at will-call, and gone to park her car, only to discover that the tire pressure, whose warning light had signaled on our way to the performance, was decreasing at an alarming pace, and so needed to be handled immediately.
She told me to leave her ticket at will-call for her, and that she would join me when she could, and then took her car to the one place she found open on a Sunday to handle such issues as her current tire predicament (which, fortunately, was only about a mile away from where we were).
At intermission, she joined me at our seats, her having sat at the back for the first part, due to her having arrived late.
She informed me that she had made it to the performance by asking a woman to drop her off, since it was only about a mile away from where she had had to bring her car.
We laughed at the slight absurdity of it all, and discussed how to get back to the car after the performance ended.
Yes, it was close, but the place would close only half an hour after the performance ended, and my mom wasn’t in running shoes (nor was I).
So, I offered the idea of my spare bus card.
At first, she aimed to find someone we knew after the performance ended, so as to ask for a ride.
Then, she considered Uber (but I was opposed for the cost of it, and the fact that my account isn’t set up properly anymore for here [remember how I lived in Japan]), before reconsidering just asking someone else from the performance whom we didn’t know.
We were running short on time, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking for help, when I had means to handle the situation myself – I’m always rather like that… if I can do it myself, even if it is more difficult, I typically still will handle it myself, so that I only ask for help when I truly need it.
So, I looked up the bus route options, and started walking to the bus stop, which was enough encouragement for my mom to give up her idea and go with mine.
I knew her main opposition was simply the same as most people’s in Houston – most people do not use the busses here, unless they financially have no other means of getting around, making the bulk of bus patronage poor laborers, cleaners, minimum wage people in rough situations, and homeless people…, and that can be an uncomfortable, and almost dangerous-feeling experience for those who do not belong to those groups of individuals…, and it can somewhat easily create a feeling of being somewhere dirty, at times…, so no one wants to ride the busses in Houston…, not really, anyway.
I, myself, struggle with it, despite the fact that I use the busses here… I want to promote public transit as much as possible, but I also prefer feeling safe and clean than the opposite, you know?
Nonetheless, it was our most logical option today (in my head, anyway), so we went for the bus.
Another lady coming from a similar downtown performance also joined us in waiting for the bus, and it was quite cool to me to see another ‘normal’ person, so to speak, taking the bus.
My mom, while waiting, mentioned how she had never ridden the bus here, and that she was a bit excited for it.
I smiled and was glad, and told her how it all worked, and that it was mostly just like any other public transit she had ridden elsewhere (except in Vienna, which has one of the best public transit systems ever, and in all aspects of it).
While riding, she asked about how to signal for our stop, and I explained her two options, however, another woman clicked for our stop first.
I told my mom that she could push the tape anyway, just to have the experience and to know what it’s like, pushing the tape on our busses, and she replied coolly and smiling, “I’m touching enough.”
We had seen a whole range of riders come aboard, including all of the stereotypes, smells and all, but also a few other ‘normal’-esque individuals.
Nonetheless, I understood entirely why she had no interest in touching anything more than was necessary at this point.
When we exited the bus, I rushed off in one direction on my predetermined path to the car place, while covering my gaze to the right hand side, and ignoring my mom’s questioning as to why I was going that particular direction, knowing that she would follow me because of my quick pace.
When we were walking into the driveway of the car place, I slowed and dropped my hand, turning toward my mom and informing her of how I had been avoiding any sort of interaction with the man who had been urinating in the trash can that was next to the bus stop.
No, I had not been certain of that being his task, but it looked to be enough so, and I had no interest in discovering anything further on the matter, and so I blocked it from my view, and headed off with the intention of getting away as soon as was possible.
It is funny to me a bit – perhaps ironic – that my mom has told me so much since I’ve moved back to Houston (from Japan) that I need to be careful here, and that it is not like Japan, and yet she does not herself seem to understand how to be careful when in Houston.
She asked why I hadn’t gone the other way around the block, and I, at first, didn’t understand why she was asking – was it not obvious?
And, of course, it wasn’t obvious, I realized… she had no idea the type of hangout that the area was, nor that more people tended to hang out over by that underpass all along its length, and that it was a better idea for us to avoid it altogether, always.
So, while being a bit nervous at my mother’s lack of understanding as to how to be safe in Downtown Houston, I also was consoled in my own ability to be safe here – without realizing it, I had developed my own appropriate way to keep myself safe here in Houston – that’s part of why I tend not to go out at night.
I typically ride my bicycle or scooter, or even take the bus or walk for getting around anywhere near me, and none of those is a very good idea at night…., so I usually just don’t go.
I had begun to think it was merely because of my anti-social emotional side lately, and my dislike for drunk people, but this had me recall that it is more than just an aversion for stupid people that keeps me in most nights. 😛
Anyway, my mom picked up her car and was bummed about having to spend the money, as was I, but we were grateful for the bit of time we had been able to spend letting my mom experience a Houston Metro bus, and that, at the very least, the concert itself had been free.
But this did remind me of that time we drove way up north to a special spring to get some free, natural spring sulfurous water straight from the source – the city had it posted that anyone could come have water from it, so long as the sun is up – and then drive back home an hour and a half, during which time my mom commented, “Well, that was the most expensive free water I’ve ever gotten,” referring to the gasoline cost and the tolls crossed for the journey. 😛
It’s been a bit of a joke of ours ever since then.
And so, today’s performance, one could say, was the most expensive free concert we’ve ever attended. 😛
(Actually, my mom did say that… haha… I’d forgotten that it wasn’t just something I’d thought, but that seems actually said aloud. 😂)