I won’t sugar coat it: I felt a bit of trepidation when I decided to move back to San Antonio. It had been more than a few years since I backed my blue Geo Storm out of my parent’s driveway and drove west on Interstate 10 to Los Angeles — leaving my family, my friends, and this city behind. A lot happened in the “California years” of my life, and I wasn’t ready to let it go…until I had to.
The Alamo City has always been my home, even in the years I didn’t live here. It’s where I was born, played in my high school band (don’t judge), and got my heart smushed for the first time. I’m third-generation San Antonian. But, with deep roots, sometimes comes a deep desire to well, uproot yourself. So, I did, replanting myself in Los Angeles after earning my degree from Texas State University.
It wasn’t my first time stepping foot in L.A. My parents had taken my two brothers and myself to Southern California several times to visit distant family. With each trip, my fascination with the smog-filled, sprawling city grew. By the time I was old enough to move there on my own, I was pretty comfortable walking down Sunset Boulevard, riding my bike on Venice Beach, and visiting cousins in East L.A.
My beginnings were humble. I crashed on friends’ couches and lived out of my suitcase for weeks at a time. And, then, I got a job working at a pretty popular store in Beverly Hills, followed by renting my first apartment, one room with a bathroom, no kitchen. I used a burner to “cook” that my Dad sent me and kept my drinks in a mini-fridge a co-worker loaned me. My place was the size of a large closet, but I loved it, just the same.
Living in Los Angeles gave me a sense of freedom and accomplishment. It felt like the second part of my life was just beginning. The fact that I was able to take care of myself financially and emotionally fueled my independence even more.
I moved to L.A. to pursue a career in writing, not an easy task. I had to pick up side jobs here and there in hopes of getting closer to that goal. I started working for a record label publicist, which led to a job at a radio station, which then led to a job at a national music video channel. I travelled extensively, interviewed music artists, attended award shows, and pretty much had the time of my life. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
I truly believe that the reason I was able to keep my head above water in Los Angeles, and in an industry as cutthroat as the music business, is because of the city that I came from. San Antonio breeds realness. Not every city can say that, trust me. I did not grow up around pretentiousness in San Antonio. People mean what they say, appreciate what they have, and listen like you’re the only one in the room. There is no wading through the fake. My San Antonio upbringing and strong moral compass kept me sane in an otherwise crazy city like L.A., and continuously led me to make the right choices. My genuine self never wavered and in a place full of flashy cars and flashier attitudes, that was priceless.
So, after years of 70-degree days, occasional earthquakes, and grocery store celebrity run-ins, what brought me back to San Antonio? Time and circumstances. You see, my Mom suddenly became ill and passed away – something I was not at all prepared for. A few months later, I found out I was pregnant (surprise!) and gave birth to my daughter, almost exactly one year after my Mom died. And, like every parent, you want more for your children. You want them to be surrounded by love and family, and provide them with a healthy environment. Plus, let’s be honest, I needed the help, and my Dad needed the distraction. So, just as I drove from San Antonio to Los Angeles back in the day, I packed up my car, this time with a husband, cat and wailing 4-month-old in tow, and took I-10 back to my hometown.
The relocation was different this time around in that I wasn’t looking for a dream job. My husband and I had our own web design business that came with us. And, as it turned out, I moved back to a city that was positioning itself as the new tech hub of Texas. The local art scene was flourishing, the lure of small businesses was calling, and downtown was in the midst of revitalization.
This wasn’t the sleepy San Antonio I left. This metropolis had awakened from its slumber and begun to live up to its potential. But, at the same time, through its massive growth, the heart and soul of this place remains the same. This is the ultimate beauty of San Antonio. No matter how expansive the city becomes, in every aspect, what makes it such an amazing place to live, work, and play is that we never lose sight of ourselves here. We know who we are, warts and beauty marks alike. We look each other in the eyes and say hello. We don’t avert our gaze. We cherish our past while looking to the future. San Antonio is a huge city built on community. My hometown is still my hometown, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
When I lived in California, my Mom never stopped asking when I was moving back home.
“I’m proud of you. You can come back home now,” she would say. Like, OK, you proved your point, now come back. At the end of the day, my Mom finally made sure I came back home to San Antonio. I know that wherever she is, she’s laughing right now, and smiling.
*Featured/top image: The Heavy Heavy team from left to right: Steven Darby, Jeanette Fernandez, Erik Ford. Courtesy photo.