The Houston Heat
The Texas Story Project.
It is the biggest pre-set idea of my city: that the environment the locals live in is this melting disaster that never seems to cool down. It's the first image that pops into people's head before anything else. And it’s the question people feel the need to ask in the elevator when I travel. "From Houston, huh? Is it nice to get away from the heat?"
When I hear this, I want to explode. This comment enrages me! How could they think that about the city I love? How could they assume that I travel because I don't like the Houston weather? Why do they not first think about all of the wonderful things that Houston has to offer?
But secretly I am one of them, because deep down I know, that they are not completely wrong.
Because Houston is hot. And I hate it.
"No one's idea of fun" is the always looming feeling that your face will melt when you step outside for a breath of fresh air. Carefully styled curls are never fun when your hours of hard work frizz up into a disaster when you walk outside into the unbelievably humid environment. An otherwise fun soccer game with your friends is inevitably ruined when it turns into a race to get into the safety of the air conditioned building.
Never, ever count on an actual winter in Houston, because it never snows. Ever. Although the heat doesn’t often take over the coldest season of the year, I’ve definitely experienced hot winters. Two years ago my family hosted Christmas at our house. As always, I was giddy and excited when I woke up to the beautiful presents Santa Claus had left behind. But that day it was 80 degrees. I remember that my whole entire family was sweating, playing a basketball game on Christmas Day because sitting beside the fire and singing "Let it Snow" wasn’t exactly possible.
There are rules you have to follow living here. Never buy expensive winter clothes because you will never wear them. Never wear your hair down because it will turn into a sticky and sweaty mess. And trust me, wet hair at the nape of your neck is never a good feeling. And never, ever stay outside without an air conditioned building nearby because heat exhaustion is a serious worry around here.
Despite all of this, these minor annoyances are not the sole reason that I hate the Houston Heat. Surprisingly enough, I don’t dislike the weather just because I feel like a marshmallow roasting over the fire. My intolerance for heat is not the only reason why I hate Houston in the summertime. It’'s not just because I hate being overheated. It’s because I feel that the heat always seems to be the one thing that makes people criticize my city. It's because people are blinded by the one flaw that Houston has, but can't fix. It’s because I actually love Houston. It’s diverse, it has good food, and "Houston" was the first word said on the moon. But, the one tremendously large flaw, is that it seems to be the hottest place on earth. Houston could be the perfect city, if it weren’t smack in the middle of Southeast Texas.
Unfortunately this flaw seems to be the main overshadowing idea in every foreigner's mind. It's the fog that clouds in our heads all the good things about Houston, for both outsiders and the locals. I can only imagine what Houston would be like if it were just a little colder: It would be a utopia — highly overpopulated, but a utopia nonetheless. I don't know that it can ever come close, because this idea of a hot and mucky hell is the only thing occupying all of our minds, making us the most unappreciative we could ever feel about this beautiful city.
This is why I hate the Houston Heat.
But the heat is not alway such a bad thing. If you are ever away, you will know that you are home when the heat once again wraps itself around you like the blanket that you might have never wanted, but has nonetheless been with you from birth. Though I can sometimes really despise the heat, I know that no matter what I do, it’ll always be there, and just like any relationship, you take the other person with their strengths and with their weaknesses. The heat will never leave, and so just like Houston itself, it will always stay in my heart.
Julia Yanosik is a student at St. Catherine's Montessori and has lived in Houston all her life.
Posted December 21, 2017