I was 15 years old, disheveled, and red-eyed in the backseat of my parents’ old Pontiac the first time I laid eyes on Houston, Texas. We’d waved goodbye to our small Arkansas town and to the only world my little brother and I had ever known. Tony and I curled up in that backseat and sobbed into our pillows for the first 60 miles of the eight-hour stretch.
We drove all night to get to Houston in time to register for the first day of classes. (I’d left a public high school with a total population of 1,000 and would later step into an enormous human ant bed crawling with 4,600 students.) In the morning, I roused to the loud static and broken syllables of Dad searching for a radio station.
My brother and I stared out the backseat windows as an enormous ball of orange fire rose boastfully over the horizon and Interstate 10 spilled us onto a freeway congested by more cars than we’d ever seen. A DJ from KILT AM bellowed, “Good morning, Houston, Texas, the biggest city in the South.” We nearly threw up.
I pressed my nose to the window and glared at a sight utterly foreign: windows boarded up on this storefront and that business, all leftover precautions from a recent scare. It was this exact same time of year—within a day or two, I’m sure—that I got my first introduction to Houston’s hurricane culture. We’d moved right in the middle of its annual season and, as God would have it, I’d spend the rest of my life joining the rest of our region minding its business.
I married a fourth-generation Houstonian. This is our home. These are our people. The first sign of summer is the kiosk near grocery-checkout stocked with hurricane supplies and pamphlets. The faces of weathermen on our local stations are more familiar to us than the news anchors’.
This is life on the Gulf Coast.
Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries is headquartered in Houston.