mellicious: pink manicure (Buffy quote: high school)
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Once again, after saying I rarely used prompts, I'm using another one, mostly because it intersects with something I was going to talk about anyway. The prompt for today is Do you still live in the place where you grew up? How far away are you now, and why?

I may have to go get a screenshot from Google maps to illustrate, because I'm sort of interested in the relationship between the three towns in this area. But the short answer is that I'm living the closest I've lived to my hometown since college - I'm 10 miles away, at the most. (I was wandering around the other day and ended up buying gas there. It was $1.39, which is amazing but that's another subject.) Since I moved back from Austin in 1986 I haven't lived all that far away from it, but not anywhere near this close, where you could just wander over there in 10 minutes of driving.

I grew up in Alvin, Texas, a little town not far south of Houston, which is most famous for being the hometown of pitcher Nolan Ryan. That's pretty much its one and only claim to fame. We lived there from the time that I was born until I was four, and then we moved away for a few years, and then we moved back when I was seven and stayed there until after I graduated from high school. My parents were still living there when I'd come home for summers in college, but they moved out of town shortly after that, in the early 80s, to be closer to my dad's work. But my mom still worked in Alvin and my grandmother still lived there, so I'd still get the Alvin gossip for a long time. But then my mother retired and my grandmother got Alzheimer's and had to move to a nursing home (which was here in Friendswood, as it happens) and my ties to Alvin grew fewer and fewer. Now that they are both dead I really don't have much contact with people from Alvin. Most of the gossip I get comes through my dad, who still has more ties than I do even though he's actually up on the far-north side of Houston.

Let's see if I can get this map to work:
map
I'm not sure how legible it is, but maybe you can at least get the idea. (Big version here, if you really want to see.) Houston proper is just to the north of this, and the water on the right is part of Galveston Bay. The really heavily-populated area over on the right by the space center and the water is known as Clear Lake, after the sort of squiggly lake that's visible on the map just east of the bay. Before I moved up here I would have included Friendswood in the Clear Lake area, broadly, but I find now that I'm here that Clear Lake seems to end at the freeway, in most people's estimation, and Friendswood is is included in sort of a triangle with Pearland and Alvin. Friendswood is the part just to the west of the freeway, Pearland is further west, and Alvin is down at the bottom. I think I cut off the part with the scale, but we're talking about 10 miles from one to the other, at the most.

The interesting thing is, when I was growing up, Alvin was probably the biggest of these three towns, and now I think it may be the smallest. Pearland in particular is booming - over on the very left of the map, where Hwy 288 comes south out of Houston, they're building subdivisions like crazy. They call it West Pearland, as opposed to East Pearland which is the old part of town, and is the part close to us. It takes close to 30 minutes to get over to the new part because there's so many stoplights, but I've been going over there to shop, a bit. It's too far to go just for groceries but there's a whole new "mall" - or one of those open-air things they build nowadays instead of malls - with a Macy's and a Dillard's, and there's a Kohl's and a SuperTarget and all the Ross' and Michael's and so forth that inevitably pop up in an area like that. (And a nice big Barnes and Noble, which Rob was happy to find out about. He loves to go browse the magazines.)

So we got Pearland booming, Friendswood - despite all the small-town ambience - full of ritzy subdivisions, and Alvin - well, Alvin is sort of left out. Alvin has some subdivisions and has gotten pretty big, too, but it still feels small-town to me in a way that the others don't. I hate to say it, but it feels sort of like a hick town, even if it does have a Chili's. I've said before that Friendswood feels small-town, but in a good way - and Alvin verges on feeling small-town in a bad way. There's this subtle difference that I don't like, although it's hard to put your finger on it. I still like to visit, but I would be reluctant to move back there, to tell you the truth.

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