When I was interviewing for full-time jobs while I was an undergrad at The University of Texas, I’d often tell recruiters, “I’m excited about going somewhere new, but I’ll stay in Texas if the job is in Austin. If I’m not in Austin, I’m not in Texas.” 90% of the time, their response would be, “Good to know, so what about Dallas?”
I was born in Houston and grew up in the Mission Bend area. Life was pretty simple from what I remember. We played baseball in the street and would yell, “CAR!” to clear the street to let someone drive through. We’d ride our bikes to the comic book shop where the owner would occasionally give me a free comic but would get upset when I’d choose something he thought was a little too dark, like Sandman. I briefly became the most popular kid on the street when I got Street Fighter 2 for the Super Nintendo.
My family was also pretty involved in the local Indian Bengali community, so I was lucky to have friends that spanned school, neighborhood, and ethnicity. But, and I don’t know what drove this — perhaps watching a bunch of movies or TV shows that romanticized other places, I’d always thought about leaving Texas at some point. UT wasn’t even my first choice for school. It was actually my last. I had gotten into the University of Michigan, and I remember touring the campus with an engineering junior where be showed me his lab where they were gutting a mid-90’s Ford Taurus to replace the engine with an electric one.
After the tour
“This is where I want to go, dad.”
“No problem son, just work hard on your grades, and you’ll go to whatever school you want to. Don’t worry about the money.”
After dad gets the out-of-state tuition summary
“Monty, UT has a solar race car team. Join that.”
So I went to UT, and I had an absolutely amazing time there, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I joined the solar race car team. But when I was approaching graduation, I decided that it was definitely time to leave. Over the years, I’d live in upstate New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA.
And after almost 20 years, I’m heading back to Houston, and I thought I’d write about it here. But this isn’t just about heading back to a physical location. Growing up and while I was in college, I made an active effort to disconnect from a part of my upbringing. I pushed away people from the community that I grew up with, I abandoned some of the things that interested me earlier, and I just struggled with figuring out who the hell I was, all of which led me to believe that where I lived was part of the problem. So I happily took off, in spite of my parents asking me not to.
And while I’ve had a fantastic life, making the best of friends, getting married, having a daughter, I never found what I was originally looking for — whatever that was, if it was even a real thing at all. So I’m not just looking forward to going back to where I grew up, but I’m looking forward to reconnecting to something deeper that I left behind.
So that brings me here. I’ll be chronicling everything that happens here along the way. Back to Texas, back home to the community I grew up in, maybe back to that comic book store.