I pose with two women selling jewelry in Jaisalmer, India. Photo by Bobby Vinson.
I pose with two women selling jewelry in Jaisalmer, India. Photo by Bobby Vinson.

When I returned home to San Antonio after four and a half years of being away, all I could think about was my escape route. I wanted out of the predictable pace of San Antonio and into a younger, more vibrant city. I’m a woman on the move and I wanted my living arrangements to match my lifestyle.

After spending some time out and about in San Antonio, however, my perception changed. I liked what I saw in San Antonio. There was something real about it, a tangible quality of family friendliness and accessibility to all parts of town where mom and pop businesses still survive. I started attending yoga classes at Southtown Yoga Loft and I felt comfortable in the space. I sat, legs crossed, and observed the horizontal rays of sunlight on my mat, duplicating the pattern of the blinds that covered the window closest to me. I inhaled the air inside of the minimalist room with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls, and I felt at peace. I felt like I was home. San Antonio isn’t especially known as a yoga enclave, but I had found my niche.

I graduated from high school in 2010 and moved into a housing cooperative in Austin where I lived with 120 other students. At first, I was overwhelmed. Coming from San Antonio, the co-op lifestyle was like something out of a movie. I didn’t know how to cope with the constant chaos. I was experiencing sensory overload. But gradually, I adapted to the place. When I walked through the front door, the stink of spilt beer together with the aroma of that night’s dinner preparation began to smell like home. I probably learned as much from living in that co-op as I did attending the University of Texas.

At a themed party with some of my girlfriends in Austin. Courtesy photo.
At a themed party with some of my girlfriends in Austin. Courtesy photo.

When I graduated from UT with a Bachelor in Journalism in May of 2014, I felt like I needed out of Austin. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city, but I wanted change. I wanted an adventure. So I booked a one-way ticket to India, and my friend Marina followed suit. I perused the Internet looking for a yoga ashram, and I found one called Rishikesh Yog Peeth in Rishikesh, India. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but its website was the most alluring.

After six weeks of structured life at the ashram, I left India and flew to Nepal to meet up with my two older brothers. My middle brother, gainfully employed, would leave for home in College Station after two weeks, but the older one stayed behind and traveled with me throughout India for three months. So for three months I carried around a 50-pound backpack that held all of my possessions, and I guarded that thing with my life. India was all that I expected: exotic sites and sounds, inventive hustlers, strange customs, hostel camaraderie, vivid colors in dress and surroundings, a pulsing, surging mass of humanity, and animals and tuk tuks competing for space.

Marina and I at our graduation ceremony at Rishikesh Yog Peeth. Courtesy photo.
Marina and I at our graduation ceremony at Rishikesh Yog Peeth. Courtesy photo.

Once I was sick of curry and chai, I left India for some Vietnamese soup and coffee. Well, that’s not entirely true. I also left because I was meeting two of my best friends, two girls who I met at the co-op in Austin. We traveled through four countries in Southeast Asia before I left them to fly to Europe to meet family. On Christmas Day I concluded my journey and boarded a plane for San Antonio, relieved to unload myself of that backpack for good.

Once I was in San Antonio and the thrill of being home had worn off, I started to feel stuck. I applied for jobs in Denver and Austin, none of which felt right for me.

At the Swayambhunath temple, or Monkey Temple, with my brothers in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo by tourist.
At the Swayambhunath temple, or Monkey Temple, with my brothers in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo by tourist.

One night I met up with my friend Meredith at Local Coffee. As I lamented my failed job search, and my uncertainty for the future, she slipped in that she knew of this online news magazine called the Rivard Report. That night, I went home and read a few articles on the site. I liked what I saw and read. It was a breath of fresh air to read the Rivard Report stories. They were raw and real and unlike anything else I had encountered in San Antonio media.

So after hanging around San Antonio for some time and concluding that it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered, I emailed Robert Rivard.

I got the job, and now, here I am, typing away.

I arrived to work on my first day at 10 a.m., sat down next to the Executive Editor Iris Dimmick at her sleek bamboo desk, and started learning the ways of the Rivard Report. She was patient with me as I asked questions and made sense of the various duties of which I would be responsible. After I grasped the fundamental workings of the website, I was put to work. I quickly started editing freelancer’s work, uploading photos, and finalizing stories for publication. I couldn’t believe I was trusted with such responsibility so early on. By my second week on the job I was covering events and writing articles.

We held the first Pints and Politics during my first week at the Rivard Report, and the following day I made a podcast about the event. My podcast stint isn’t over, and I will soon be making short documentary-style videos. Keep your eyes open and ears alert.

The Rivard Report recently hired Photographer Scott Ball and I look forward to working with his creative eye. We’ll be covering Fiesta as a duo and I think our unique perspectives will mesh well together.

I have a good feeling about what the future holds for me at the Rivard Report. Our small team is efficient and willing to take on challenges. I’ve always been fearful of monotonous routines, but the Rivard Report doesn’t seem to have the word “routine” in it’s vocabulary. I’m doing something different every day, which is a quality I never thought I’d find in a full-time job.

San Antonio is a neat place – it’s teeming with history and culture. But most of all, it’s real, and it’s not trying to be something that it’s not, which I admire. Nevertheless, all of these real people need to come together and make some real stuff happen. I’m talking music, art, and outdoor activities. The Maverick Music Festival and the opening of the Paper Tiger are good starts, but more needs to happen.

“San Antonio has always been known to roll up their sidewalks when the sun goes down,” my mom said to me the other day while discussing San Antonio’s lifestyle. Although San Antonio is known for its sleepiness, I think the city is marshaling its diverse forces to become a 21st century city, and people are waking up to the opportunities in which they can take part.

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....