My family lived in different parts of San Antonio while I was growing up because of my dad’s job working on different military bases, but we always had social ties on the South Side. We were involved with the San Antonio Charro Association for a few years, and their stables were on the South Side, so we would be out there every day taking care of the horses. 

When I was in middle school, we started looking for a more permanent home where we could keep our horses so we wouldn’t have to go back and forth to the stables anymore. That’s how we found our Floresville home. It sits on 31 acres, so it feels like our own private island. It’s so tranquil and secluded and offers some respite from the busy day-to-day of school and work. I’m a lifestyle blogger and digital content creator, as well as a full-time student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, so it’s nice after a long day of classes or events to be able to come home and unwind.

We’re just 20 minutes from the South Side and still have strong ties there, so before the pandemic, you could often find me studying or working on content at one of the many local coffee shops. Now I’m spending most of my time at home and have a greater appreciation for all the space that I have. 

We no longer keep any horses because my dad got reassigned to Egypt, so my parents moved out there around 2014. My brother also joined the military, so it’s just been me out here for the last few years. I was only 22 when my parents moved and didn’t know a lot about what it takes to maintain a home and such a large property. Plus I was working full time and going to school part time, so it was a big responsibility, on top of all that, to have to take care of the family home. 

The sprawling oak three on Melendrez’s property provides dense shade from the open fields. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The water heater went out on me once, and I had to get it replaced. I remember going to Lowe’s and thinking, I have no idea what I’m doing. Thankfully, I have friends and family to lean on, and my parents will always answer my calls, even if it’s the middle of the night for them.

My brother recently moved back, and it’s been a big help. He’s keeping up with the yard work that I used to hire someone to do and all the little maintenance things I used to have to look up on YouTube. We’re also looking into getting horses again, and maybe making this a place where older horses can come kick back and relax, a kind of retirement home for horses.

One of my favorite memories from high school was the time our family from Houston was in town for another family gathering and had planned to drive back home in the evening. But they were tired, and my mom invited them to stay the night with us. When they arrived, it was 1 a.m. and they realized that the leftover meat from their earlier gathering wasn’t on ice and had defrosted. So they suggested having an impromptu barbecue. Then the kids saw that we had a pool and decided to go swimming, so we ended up having a barbecue and pool party in the middle of the night. That’s something that we couldn’t have done if we still lived in the city – at least not without upsetting the neighbors.

Cattle on Melendrez’s land graze along the gravel driveway leading to the South Texas home. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

We used to have these Bethlehem donkeys, and they were escape artists. They got out of the barn that night and made their way to the main part of the property. I remember I was talking to my mom in my parents’ room when I heard, “Oh my god, it’s a petting zoo!” We walked out and the donkeys were staring through the window at all the kids asleep on air mattresses in the living room. So we took the kids outside and they got to pet the donkeys. Those kids have grown up now, but whenever I see them, they still ask about the donkeys.

I love telling that story because my friends from the city never experienced anything like that. I have so many great memories that I’ve been able to make because of where I live. But if you look through my pictures on Instagram, if you only know me through my online presence, you don’t see that I live in the country and come from a background of horse riding competitions. You don’t know that growing up, my chores included mucking stalls and waking up early to feed the horses. I’ve started to embrace that more as part of who I am.

I love living in Floresville and appreciate all the life lessons instilled in me through my not-so-typical chores and lectures from my always-supportive parents. Now I’m thinking about how to mesh this important part of who I am with my love for fashion and beauty in the content I create to be able to present my most authentic self. Perhaps that’s one good thing to come from the recent stay-at-home orders, a chance to appreciate where I live.

Jonathan Scott Melendrez

Jonathan Scott Melendrez is a lifestyle blogger, digital content creator, and full-time student showcasing life through art.