Why do you stay?

Sometimes I think people confuse optimism with exaggeration, denial, or even downright deceit. I read blog comments (somewhere else) this morning accusing realtors who reported sales statistics since the storm of being liars. Of course, statistics are statistics, so the accusation reveals the blogger’s bias against real estate agents far more than it says anything useful about the market or the realtor.

But that’s not my point. My point is that you can be optimistic and still be realistic. Every spiritual discipline since God was a boy has some version of the fundamental duality we see graphically on display in Galveston today — yin & yang, cause & effect, light & dark, devil & god, high & low — where the most beautiful days at the beach are punctuated by tent cities, mounds of debris, and still incongruous boat wreckage.

People ask how we’re doing and my mind races around how to answer. I want to say, “Great! Come see us,” but don’t want to minimize how much help we still need. Sometimes I want to say, “It sucks. I still can’t go home and I really wish I had a change of clothes,” but don’t want people to think we’re so damaged we’re not worth the effort.

So can we agree that good and bad, comfort and pain, sadness and joy, loss and prosperity can all co-exist? Then we can answer the question, “How are you?” honestly with however it is that we are at that moment and not be bound to it in perpetuity.

Which brings up today’s next most common debate: Why do we stay?

I stay because I’m a water baby. I stay because I love New Orleans and New York City, and downtown Galveston is a hybrid of the two in miniature. (Click to read what I wrote about that a year ago in The Islander Magazine.) I stay because Galveston is 45 minutes from Houston, where I can get a big city fix anytime I want. I stay because we are the most affordable waterfront community in the U.S. I stay because Galvestonians are quirky, diverse, creative, kind, enterprising, and independent, not to mention endlessly supportive of “odd.” I stay because I have made some of the best friends I’ve ever had here. I stay because I have built a business here and people depend on me, an honor I cherish. I stay because I’m not particularly interested in starting over right now. I stay because it’s my home. I stay because — well, check out this duality:

Homemade boat on Galveston Bay

Homemade boat on Galveston Bay

Cruise ship sneaking around the corner

Cruise ship sneaking around the corner

Click here to view a great video essay by a Wall Street Journal reporter who spent all her summers on the Bay at San Leon.

Why do you stay?

P.S Here’s who/what’s open in Galveston so far.

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  1. #1 by Ruthi Stayton on October 26, 2008 - 11:57 am

    We stay because we get to get up every morning and take photos of our unique and recovering Island and share them with those who live here and those who only dream of living on this quaint old gem. We wouldn’t live anywhere else.

  2. #2 by Marianne Bradley on October 26, 2008 - 12:00 pm

    I have been receiving Alice’s wonderful descriptions of what has been going on since the beginning of recovery after Ike. I am her cousin and live on the west coast of Florida, where we have experienced our share of storm and hurricane damage the past 4 years, but nothing really like what Galveston suffered from Ike. I think it is important for everyone there to be supportive of one another. Alice is one of the best at encouraging and supporting others and keeping them all together. Her blog certainly helps everyone know what is going on, and having a medium to reach out to all who are effected. Keep up the good spirits!

  3. #3 by Patty on October 26, 2008 - 10:14 pm

    Alice – What do you know about the trailer park west of Jamaica Beach on both sides of 3005? Were those lots owned by the residents? Were they permanent residents? It seemed like a quirky development but I’m sure it was home to many people and now it’s just been devastated.

  4. #4 by Patty on October 26, 2008 - 10:19 pm

    Alice – What do you know about the residential trailer park to the west of Jamaica Beach – the one with the swimming pool that fronted both sides of 3005? It appears that most of that development was destroyed and I wonder what happened to those residents. It seemed to be an interesting mix of people and I’m sure they’re going through tough times now.

  5. #5 by amelott on October 26, 2008 - 10:20 pm

    Patty — The trailer park homesites are, indeed, owned by individuals, many of whom are permanent, but not all. Some folks just liked the idea of having a place to go on the beach with a pool and not a lot of investment. My bet is that they’ll clean it up and put new trailers back there. They had a big blue M&M out there shortly after Ike — holding a sign that said “It’s still paradise.” And last weekend they were passing out hamburgers and sausage-on-a-stick by the side of the road!

  6. #6 by Amy Ponomarev on October 26, 2008 - 10:32 pm

    We stay because
    We love to watch the dolphins in the Gulf and in the Bay
    Sunsets are an othereworldly experience
    On rainy days we love to visit the penguins and the rainforest at Moody Gardens
    Schlitterbahn: water equals joy
    The Gulf is 100s of shades of blue and green and we want to memorize all of them
    to have brunch at the Galvez is to experience Old World elegance
    The beach goes on forever and the party never ends
    You can buy a membership at the San Luis pool for $300 a year
    When you ask a Galvestonian how they are, they really tell you
    There’s a soft caribbean feel about the way people talk to each other
    The Gulf of Mexico draws us like a magnet
    Water-skiing in the wide open bay inspires us
    We could walk the beach forever
    These beautiful photos by Vadim Troshkin will give you 1000s of reasons to stay on the Island:

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