Just because I love lists and bragging on my underrated hometown, I’m riffing off Katie again. Thanks for the prompt Katie! (Go read what she loves about Boston too.)
1. It’s such an international city. I love that there is such a diversity of languages spoken and cultures represented in my melting pot port city.
2. …and spinning off #1… ethnic food! Restaurants specialize in Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Jamaican, Cuban, Greek, Moroccan, French, Spanish, German, Belgian, Brazilian, Turkish, Malaysian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Thai, Korean, Mongolian, Peruvian… And if you want to cook, local grocery stores sell all the exotic ingredients necessary to cook ethnic foods, too. (Although you should make your own paneer fresh; it’s quite easy and delicious!)
3. This one’s qualified: when it’s not (ahem) summer, the weather’s pretty friendly. You can play outside (whatever that may mean to you!) year-round here. The summers will challenge your tolerance for heat & humidity, but during the winter you’ll be happy to wear shorts.
4. What we call “culture” is well represented: we have world-class symphony, ballet, and theatre companies; Broadway comes through regularly; and your band of choice is likely to play here if they’re on tour. (And if not here, definitely Austin, which is just 2 1/2 hrs away.)
5. Memorial Park! Almost double the size of New York’s Central Park at 1500 acres, Memorial Park offers tennis, golf, road cycling, running, swimming pool, fitness center, mountain bike trails, an arboretum with nature and birdwatching tours, sports fields and playgrounds – and it’s central. I feel incredibly lucky to have a park of this caliber right smack in the middle of my hometown – which is why I give money to the Conservancy and volunteer there doing trail maintenance.
6. Strangely, the cycling scene. Despite (or perhaps in part because of?) our notorious reputation for unfriendliness to bicycles, we have a great local community. In 2007, I was in the unique position of at least peripherally knowing many different cycling circles: I worked in a bike shop and so knew customers who were roadies, mountain bikers, charity riders, even spin-class-takers; I raced road, track, and cyclocross; I was a commuter and a former bike messenger. When I had my bad wreck that year, an amazing variety of cyclists contacted me to show support in various ways. I’ve been a member of several really awesome teams. It’s an inspiring local scene.
7. Proximity to Mexico and Central America! This gives us great access to vacation spots – and means we have plenty of Mexican food here at home, yum.
8. Low cost of living (and cheap gas), especially when compared with other big international cities. Win-win. Unemployment stays relatively low here, too. I certainly count myself very lucky (although hopefully it wasn’t all luck) and grateful to have gotten a great job right out of grad school in the fabulous economy of 2008.
9. There’s a beach nearby! I can’t imagine being one of those millions of people who live hours upon hours away from the nearest ocean – and they make up most of our country’s population. I like to be near the sea.
10. It’s in Texas.
What about you? What do you love about YOUR hometown?