Growing up, I mainly saw José Altuve through beloved grocery store H–E–B’s commercials. My exposure to baseball was limited to what I saw in passing while my mom or grandpa were watching the game. In the fall, I knew that every time I’d turn on the TV, I’d find a commercial featuring Altuve and Alex Bregman grilling burgers, eating snacks, and having a good time while representing every Texan’s favorite grocery store.

Turns out, there’s no H–E–B here in Philly. I’ll admit, not having my childhood grocery store is only a tiny change compared to everything else that comes with packing up and moving across the United States. But as a born and raised Houstonian, it was shocking to find that the things I once took for granted were now suddenly nonexistent—like cherishing the Astros season. My school had spirit days for every game day, and even though I never actually sat down to watch a game, each morning before the pledges of allegiance (yes, plural—both the United States and Texan one), someone would recite the highlights of the previous night. And there was no disputing that the Astros didn’t really cheat.

I didn’t need to be an active fan to keep up with my hometown’s beloved team. It was a given. But, of course, everything changed when I moved to another city for college. I missed all of the new Altuve H–E–B ads (now featuring Jeremy Peña), my sole Astros shirt gathered dust in my drawer back home, and somehow the entire season nearly slipped through my fingers with no one to excitedly recount each game to. It wasn’t until campus lit up with excitement about the Phillies vs. Astros match–up for the World Series that I realized everything I had missed. 

Living outside of my hometown for the first time, it was suddenly on my shoulders to define my identity as a Houstonian. I couldn’t simply inherit H–town pride from the people around me. My identity was no longer tied to where I was living, but was now a personal decision. So, homesick after my first few weeks in a completely different place, I chose my ‘Stros.

Holding on to everything that reminded me of home and unwilling to renounce the city that raised me, I re–emerged during the World Series as a fledgling Astros fan. I was egging on the Phillies fans that surrounded me, secretly watching the games on my computer during meetings, and reaffirming that we didn't cheat every chance I got—we’re just smart, you guys should understand. On enemy turf, I found myself cheering while my peers were booing. I was riled up defending not only the Astros, but also my hometown. 

After spending my day teaching myself an entirely new environment (What do you mean the weather is below 50 degrees? How does public transportation work? What does “jawn” mean?), it was refreshing to have something familiar, something to identify me as a born and raised H–town hustler—although I’ll admit I was jealous when all of my hometown friends’ classes were canceled for the parade.

Moving away from home, you can't be passive in claiming your identity. Whether it's joining affinity groups, taking classes in cultural studies, or just watching a baseball game, it's up to us to decide how much of our past and culture we choose to reclaim. There are things about Texas that I’ve chosen to distance myself from, and that’s part of why I wanted to go out of state for college, but there’s a lot about home that I still choose to hold close. 

Especially my Astros.