Houston, Texas: Quality time spent with amazing friends

We have been travelling for almost eleven months now, to come to Houston, Texas, and stay with our wonderful friends has been the perfect stop gap. We are so lucky to have friends that are happy to share their home and their lives with us.

Houston is actually a great place to live. It’s very eye-opening. In the same way that we found California to be overwhelmingly rich, Houston is definitely rich but for some reason it isn’t overwhelmingly rich. The rich people here have nothing to prove somehow. In California it felt a little over the top, too much. That’s not to say people aren’t ridiculously wealthy here, they are, but there is something humble about the people here.

They are extremely casual dressers and they don’t really flash their money. OK, so most people have big cars, and a lot of them, but it’s kind of just normal to have a big car. Everything is bigger in Texas. Literally. And if you don’t drive a big car you are in danger of being very hurt. It’s a big car or nothing.

While we have been here we have also been contemplating our time away from home. We are starting to feel old, and it has started to interest me about when you start to feel old. Some people might feel it when they become parents, some when they buy a house or some only when they have grandchildren. At what pinnacle in your life do you change into a real adult?

We have been travelling for almost a year now, and it has flown by, but in these moments when you stop to think you start to wonder if these years we plan to be away are too long, too stressful. Has this made us old? I’m not 100% sure. But it has definitely changed us.

We are always holding onto the trip with tender hooks, and if we lose our way and become frivolous young kids again, like we were at home, then we won’t be able to continue the trip. This trip is based on carefully selected discipline, and it requires us to be adults about it at all times. In Houston we are on “down time”. Time when we need to make money, not spend it. That take serious discipline, it takes saying no. Something we have both always been dreadful at.

But it’s amazing what you will do if you really want to. We work every hour we can, we plough away on the computers applying for jobs. We check our emails as soon as we wake up, even though it feels like we haven’t slept. This is the nature of freelance writing. It’s unpredictable. As much as you feel like you are relying on yourself for once, you are actually more than ever relying on someone else. And not just one someone else, but a lot of someone elses.

Don’t get me wrong we have had the best time in Houston. Being able to stop, get to know two of our very best friends even better, relax with them at the weekends, and feeling like we were at home. Houston felt like home, in that flat with Lewis and Jess. And they were both so supportive and understanding about our unique position in life right now, permanently on the road. That was huge.

On the last weekend, after five weeks in Rice Village, Houston, we checked out the local social club – The Big Easy, and it was like a working men’s club. It was fun, but we didn’t even need that. It was always enough just to be together and laugh together – and watch a lot of “Grey’s Anatomy”. We managed to perform a covers gig at their local, the Gorgeous Gael, on the Thursday before we left which was one of the best nights we had, and a great end to our stay.

In our time we met some of their friends, too. Who treated us as though we were their friends and were extremely generous and kind – Danny and Gosia, and their little boy Mason.

To be honest we didn’t want to leave. We had settled in there, and we weren’t ready to pick up the backpacks again. It was sad saying goodbye – it was almost like leaving home all over again. But when we arrived at Houston airport, hungover, tired and upset about leaving, we realised again how much we had gained from our time there. We’d been able to reflect on our trip and on our new “older” selves. It was a great experience.

After eleven months away from home, have had to learn how to sacrifice things, something we had never done before now. If we look back at the start of our trip in Orlando, our first destination, we were totally different people. I would describe us then as carefree, young and inexperienced. Now I would describe us as thoughtful, hardworking, and ambitious – not necessarily traits you would associate with backpackers. But for a long-term trip, in our humble opinions, this is the only way to be. Every penny can take us somewhere new, make this trip worthwhile and keep us surviving.

We will always look back on Houston as the moment we really took stock of everything we have done so far. It was quality time with our best friends and ourselves, and we are so grateful to Lew and Jess for that experience.

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Next up… Cuba…

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