I moved away from Houston, my hometown, in 2000. Every time I come home, it feels like a pilgrimage of sorts–a journey that reminds of where I'm from and how far I've come. These trips are marked with one very significant visit and that is to The Rothko Chapel.
How can I explain what this special place is? The plaque outside of it states that it is "a sacred place open to all, every day." While it is a chapel, it's not religious, per se, but rather spiritual. Inside of this octagonal Philip Johnson-designed structure are fourteen large black and purple paintings by Mark Rothko that were commissioned by philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil. Intimate yet expansive, it is truly a gift to the city that keeps on giving.
After a major break-up three years ago, I briefly moved back home and visited the Rothko Chapel quite often. There were times where I'd be driving elsewhere and somehow find myself pulling up on that leafy tree-lined street and parking the car. My sanctuary. I would sit on one of the benches and lose myself in the void of those big black canvases. y whole being would swell with emotion and, with every exhale, my mind would feel more at peace. Lighter. Freer.
From then on, whenever I'm in Houston, I make it a point to come here. Whether it's for gaining clarity or emptying out loads of anxiety, my initial thought as I get back into the car is always this: "I feel so much better now."