Darren and I have been in Texas for five and a half years, bought two houses and a car, and had a baby here. We've also both had more than one job here, and made numerous friends, but have never really felt much of a connection here. It's still weird to me to say the pledge to the Texas flag each school morning, like I'm being disloyal to Louisiana. After this weekend, we've both decided that we are proud to say that we live here, and it is finally beginning to feel like home.
We went Saturday morning to volunteer at Reliant Park, which is made up of the Astrodome, Reliant Stadium, Reliant Center, and the Reliant Dome. There are all kinds of things that happen there (which we've never been to), and Astroworld is across the street. After a 30-second orientation, we followed a whole bunch of people to a walled-off section of the Reliant Center, and waited for job assignments. We were eventually assigned to unload the cars of people who came to donate items for the hurricane victims. After a slow start, we started having masses of people who wished to donate. It was absolutely amazing to see the generosity of the residents of Houston, from the truckloads of water and formula, to the old beat-up cars filled with garbage bags of clothes. It seemed like everyone had something to donate, and since many people here have Louisiana roots, I think it helped with the healing process. There were crews of people inside the center whose job was to sort the items, and if you could imagine something to donate, we had it. There was a plethora of clothes, shoes, and bottled water, but also hygiene items, food, formula, diapers, toys, towels, appliances, and luggage. It made me feel like we were going to be able to help every person who was now calling Reliant Park his or her home.
When we left after four hours, Darren and I both had a renewed energy and appreciation for where we live. I know we didn't make a huge difference, but it felt really good!
On our way home, I received a phone call from the woman who introduced Darren and me almost twelve years ago. She and her husband, two boys, brother, his wife, their kids, her parents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, had made it to Huntsville, about 60 miles north of Houston, the night before. They were staying with some family members, but were going to rent an apartment in the town where we live. Their house in Kenner wasn't flooded, but had some structural damage. They have a few outfits each, and are planning to stay here for a couple of months. She works for Aramark catering, and they will continue to pay her, as long as she goes and volunteers at Reliant Park. We went to see their apartment that night, and it felt so good to reconnect. I think that a lot of friendships are going to be renewed in the wake of this tragedy.
On a completely different note, Darren and I finally decided to tackle our hideous bathroom this weekend. After doing the neglected yard and cleaning the house yesterday, we went and bought paint, light fixtures, and towel bars. Darren primed last night, and we both painted today. I am finally getting the calming retreat that I always wanted! Darren is installing light fixtures as I type, and now we are dreaming of tiling the floor and getting knobs and pulls for the cabinets. We still have to paint our bedroom, as well. All of this home improvement will insure that neither of us will want to move for a while, I hope. A fourth bedroom sure would be nice...
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