Often I amazed how much I think of the Southwest. If not once a day, I think of it once a week. The cliche of the endless sky comes to mind, blue from one side of the mind to the other. A gorgeous cobalt cap covers one's life. Everything on the earth appears in homage to that dome, rock formations and canyons bow and form themselves into perfect temples to that overhead God. (I always felt sorry for the gods, that they do not get a capital 'G' in honor of them. There are as many cultural symbols for pagan gods as there are for Gods- if not moreso) The houses of man even succumb to that dogma of obeying the sky and earth. Man-made towns rise, literally from out of the earth rather than just from the earth's parts. Streets are layed out logically, flowing from a central plaza that I both miss and need in my life; that and the consistency of a federally-funded siesta. I am held in a constant suspended animation when I remember the balcony at the Best Western (yes, a Best Western that literally lives up to its name) and the celestial canvas that spread from that adobe plaza in the clouds- a horizon event in every direction.
Oh yes, if not for the people, I think I would move there in a heartbeat.
Yes, the people. For a culture supposedly descended from outlaws, desperados, hopeful miners, bold and death defying entrepeneurs (can you imagine creating a business in the old west?) and the iron testicle wielding pioneers (again allow me to express a situation, taking your family, your house, your dog, your babies, and putting them into a wagon and crossing the country!) people in the southwest surely are anal. Its as if they took Baptist and Protestant Americana and cooked it down to its disgusting essence.
Again my theme, who the hell would tell Wild Bill, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, or Doc Holiday ( as much American icons as the caped wonders in comic books) to not smoke in a saloon? But that is an old theme. The Southwest, overridden by Californicators (hard to believe my spellcheck couldn't get that one) is simply too civilized, too organized- like Houston.
Let's talk about Texas. Aside from the fact that I see the whole landcape of America, like most citizens of this country, like a fairy tale land of contrasting themes, rather than a gradual shift in culture; I thought it was going to be different. Yes, my friends laugh at (with?) me when I tell them that I thought I was going to see sand and armed horsemen THE SECOND we crossed the border into Texas. But nooo, not at all, Louisiana just kept going. So that made it even odder, stranger, that the geography of Louisiana (and wetter I must say) would be clashed with the righteous dogma of GOP Texas along with a repugnant dose of reluctant Hispanics that long ago relinquished the squiggly lines over the n's.
For me Houston had no center, no soul, at least none that I could see thrown into your face like New Orleans, New York, or even Miami (if you don't know Spanish your face gets even more exposed). Nothing but highways, strip malls, and people on cell phones. Business, business, business but how do you enjoy it?
So that is what I think of when I wake here, when I think about moving. Great places need great people. And the only place you find that in unison, in agreement, in a delicately balanced cocktail, is New Orleans.