No… it’s not New Year’s Eve. It’s my birthday!!! Woo Hoo!!! I may be old but I’m far from done, and I’m starting a brand new journey into another year of life!
I just got done writing a new blog post on my other blog today titled, “On Celebrating Birthdays,” which is about the history on why we celebrate birthdays. I won’t repeat that information in this blog post, but if you want to know more, you can click here to go to that post.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but visiting Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower along with all the other fabulous places and sites in Paris, France, is definitely on my bucket list. I’m not sure how I’ll get there on $956/mo. Social Security, but I’m not letting that little fact stand in my way.
But before I get to Paris, I have to confession to make. A little over nine years ago I lost a job that has essentially left me unemployment for all these years since then. My other blog went into the story early on so it’s not worth repeating here, but it’s about a city, Houston, that I couldn’t ever get out of my system after I lived there for one year, and, yes, it’s Houston where I lost my job. I only lived there for exactly one year, and it was a thousand miles from where I was living and working at in Florida when I accepted that job that took me to Houston. And the minute I arrived in Houston to start my new job, I was hooked on the city.
I had only visited Houston once in my life before I ended up working there for seven months three decades later after my first visit. I was 21 the first time around when I visited Houston on a day trip back in 1973 when I was staying in Dallas for a few months; and I was 56 the second time when I accepted a director position that brought me back to Houston for a year in 2008-2009. I won’t go into any of the details surrounding that job or why it lasted such a short time after I had a successful career for over twenty years in my profession before taking that job; but despite the job experience, I fell in love with Houston, and I’ve never really been able to explain why that happened or to get Houston out of my system.
When I lost my job back in April 2009, I had to stay in Houston until my apartment lease was up at the end of September 2009. I spent those last five months in a major job search hoping to stay in Houston, but at the end of those five months I didn’t find another job and I couldn’t afford to stay in that apartment without a job. I ended up going back to Florida when a friend offered me her spare bedroom in her home two weeks before my apartment lease was up in Houston, and I continued searching for a job upon my return to Florida. Three months after arriving at my friend’s home I found a small furnished apartment that I could afford on my unemployment benefits in the same town where my friend lived, so I moved into it, and I ended up staying in that town for a total of four and a half years. Of course, all this time I fully expected to find a job at any moment, but it just never materialized.
Back in Florida I continued my massive job search applying for jobs all over the country. I came close to finding another position in my field several times, but for whatever reason (I’ve never known the reason) it just never came through for me. And all during this time I still had a strong desire to go back to Houston where I lost my job that started this very long and unfruitful search for employment. As you know from a previous blog post on this blog, “Traveling Light,” I “hit the road” traveling by car to several cities starting in 2012, and one of those stops was in Houston in the late summer of 2012.
I spent a week and a half in late August and early September 2012 during my first trip back to Houston since I left at the end of September 2009 hoping to make a connection with someone who could possibly help me find a job, but it didn’t work out and I returned to Florida. Still, the magnetic pull to go back to Houston never left me.
In January 2014, the house where my furnished efficiency apartment was located was sold and the new owners began extensive remodeling of the house. I ended up leaving in March 2014 as they had other plans for the apartment, and I thought I’d be able to find another furnished apartment I could afford which I had been looking for in that town for three months after the house was sold. Another friend offered me her spare bedroom in her house in Orlando while was 115 miles away, and I ended up leaving that small town and staying with my friend in Orlando for just under six months while I continued to look for affordable low income housing.
The pull to return to Houston was still very strong and after almost six months at my friend’s home in Orlando I decided to just make a break for it and see if I could go back to Houston and find a low income place to live. That is when my “hotel saga” (as I like to call it first began). Much like my job search, I honestly thought I’d find a low income furnished apartment much like I had for over four years in that small town in Florida. Due to my previous trip to Houston in late summer 2012, I became aware of weekly rate hotels that are less expensive then regular hotels that only charge a flat nightly rate for however many days or weeks one stays. The weekly rate is a big savings over being charged a nightly rate times seven for each week.
I spend three months in the fall of 2014 living in weekly rate hotels and traveling around Houston looking for low income housing in an apartment setting or a small furnished apartment in a house much like what I had in Florida. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything to rent and in the first week in January 2015 I returned to Florida. My friend that I stayed with for six months before heading to Houston had given her spare bedroom to another woman, so I continued to live in a weekly rate hotel while searching for low income housing.
Long story short, after I returned to Florida, I spent another year and a half at that point added to the previous nine months (before I went to Houston for three months in the fall of 2014) looking for low income housing and not finding it, and the lure and pull of Houston was still very strong. It was in late July 2016 that I decided take a break from looking for low income housing in Florida, and come back to Houston one more time.
When I arrived in Houston back in late July 2016, I had planned to spend two or three months here. The weekly rate hotel was cheaper and the hotel taxes dropped off after 30 days in Texas (in Florida it takes six months for the hotel taxes to drop off) and that is a significant savings of anywhere from $160-200/mo., not to mention the weekly rate is lower then what I found in Florida, and I also had a kitchenette in my room with a full size refrigerator and small kitchen area with a microwave and two-burner stove (and a very nice HDTV on the wall, too). I ended up staying in Houston beyond the amount of time I thought I would be here due to the lower price of the hotel and what I got for it, too (as in a kitchenette–and you have no idea until you’ve been forced to live without a kitchen for a long time what a real drawing card that is for me to stay). And I’m still in Houston.
I have now been here (and still looking for low income housing) for almost two years. I’ve had no strong desire to go anywhere else or even back to Florida primarily because I cannot afford the hotels in Florida as compared to the savings I have staying in a weekly rate hotel here in Houston. However, I sure do wish I could understand that “pull” to stay here in Houston that started almost a decade ago when I accepted that job in Houston and arrived in here at the end of September 2008.
It just feels like the story of my life regarding Houston hasn’t ended yet. I supposed at this point if I could find low income housing anywhere I would move to wherever it is available, but until something solid shows up (and I’ve been waiting a very long time for it to show up), I’d rather be here then any place else. And now that I am entering another brand new year since my birthday is today, I am hoping that it is soon into this new year that I finally find out what the pull to stay in Houston is all about.
Regarding that bucket list item of visiting Paris that I mentioned at the start of this post (it became a “bucket list” item back in 2012), I’d like for it to happen this year, too. So my birthday wish as I blow out that candle is to finally find out why Houston has such a pull on me, and to visit Paris, France, too. It seems as if the two are connected in some way.
There is an old saying that says, “Good things come to those who wait.” We know lots of very good promises in the Bible that are worth waiting for. Some of these are: God will supply all of your needs (Philippians 4:19), God will give you wisdom (James 1:5), God will get rid of all sadness one day (Revelation 21:4), and Jesus will come back to Earth (John 14:2-3). (Quote source and full article at this link.)
Most of us know the story of Noah in the Old Testament (see Genesis 6-8). He spent 120 years building an ark with nothing tangible in all of that time indicating an ark was needed or a flood was coming. The story is repeated in that article mentioned above on “Patience.” If ever there is a story on patience it is Noah. The article above notes:
God told Noah that there would be a flood, but God also chose to wait 120 years to send it! That’s longer than anyone lives today! Imagine if you had to wait for something for more than a century. That is an incredible amount of time to wait. It would take incredible patience for Noah to wait that long.
Did Noah ever get tired of waiting? Did he ever say, “I’ve been waiting for years and I haven’t even seen any clouds! I’m not building this ark!”? Or did he ever say, “All my neighbors think I’m crazy for building this ark. Now I feel silly. What a waste of time. I don’t think there is going to be any flood.” No! Noah never got impatient. Noah never gave up because he believed God’s promise that there would be a flood and that God would protect him and his family. So he obeyed God and he waited the entire 120 years until God finally said it was time to get on the ark. And on top of that, Genesis 7:10 says that after they got on the ark, they waited another week before the rain started. Clearly, Noah and his family had amazing patience to wait on the Lord. Noah had patience because he knew that God ALWAYS keeps His promises, and God’s timing is perfect. (Quote source here.)
Patience really is a virtue, and it is very difficult to find in our 24/7 instant access culture here in America where practically anything is available when we want it (and if we have the money to get it). Nobody likes to wait, and especially if they have been waiting years for something they are hoping for. I don’t know what the pull is that I have about Houston nor do I understand the pull to see Paris before I die, but I’ve had both of them on my mind for a long time now, and they seem to be connected.
While I’m waiting to see how this next year unfolds, I go back to the two verses that have been a solid rock for most of my life, and I’ll end this post with those two verses. They are found in Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways . . .
Acknowledge Him . . .
And He shall direct your paths . . . .
YouTube Video (a little “Birthday” music): “Celebration” (1980) by Kool and the Gang: