After a long day at the book festival, Jamie and I tried to reenergize ourselves for a fundraiser gala for Spacetaker.org, for which the very kind Christa Forster had put us on the list. We were determined to go to the right party this time. We got lost, as had become our habit over the course of three days with a rental car, this time ending up on an expressway to the airport.
But we were getting better at getting lost—we were more confident embarking on our adventures and now we could say things like, “I think we’re heading west, when we want to go northeast.” It was a more informed kind of lost, and eventually it landed us on Winter Street.
Winter Street was where we were supposed to be, but on the map it appeared to be railroad tracks. In person, it appeared to be railroad tracks.
“But look, there’s a car up there.” Jamie pointed to a white sedan meandering down the corridor of gravel and grass that paralleled the tracks. It wasn’t totally clear whether the car driving, parking or preparing to dispose of a body.
We drove down Winter “Street” for a block, then—our heads full of grisly train wreck images—freaked out and turned onto Summer Street one block north.
The party was in a big converted warehouse next to an immense factory bearing the 15-foot-high words “Success Rice” on the side. If Montrose, the area we were staying in, was the Silver Lake of Houston, this was the Just East of Downtown, a mishmash of industry and shotgun houses that was beginning to gentrify.
The folks at the party were exactly whom you’d expect to find in such a neighborhood: guys in bands, models in cream-colored semi-Victorian costumes, painters, DJs, girls with hipster-butch haircuts. It all clicked in a way that was both comforting and disappointing.
Jamie and I couldn’t find Christa, the only person we knew, so we climbed a steep spiral staircase to the roof, an activity that required us to sign a waiver saying we wouldn’t sue if we fell. We gazed at the flat and sparkling skyline and took photos of Success Rice using our camera’s fireworks setting.
We made it back downstairs without falling, said hi to Christa and her husband David and slipped back onto Winter.
A few minutes later we found ourselves idling next to a little porch-lit shotgun shack as the train rumbled by in front of us, endless and heavy. It seemed to fill the entire night. A minute ago, we’d been in Brooklyn or Downtown LA; now we were in the rural deep South. So maybe Houston was its own unpredictable place after all.