We have our favorite parks which we frequent for various reasons.
There’s the library park which is nestled into the grounds of a large, beautiful old San Antonio home and estate; its quiet and charming and lovely. There’s the one right up against the highway near our house that I used to play at as a kid, with plenty of swings and pavilions and picnic tables, where it seems half of San Antonio resides on any given Saturday.
There’s the airport park, which we’ve lovingly named because of it’s location directly under the landing flight path for the airport…we’ve gotten used to the noise, but the children still stand still in their tracks to look up at the belly of the plane flying overhead, so close it seems you could touch it.
There’s the spinny park, nicknamed by the kids for it’s various methods of getting children as dizzy as possible, complete with huge open fields perfect for kicking soccer balls around and flying kites.
These are our comforts, the places our kids know exactly what to do when we unload from our car. We have our favorite park benches to sit on and places to stand. It’s our comfort zone now.
But what else does San Antonio have to offer, I wondered? And will I like another park or feel comfortable in a different neck of the woods?
So off we set on a mission to experience a new park and explore. We ate dinner at Chris Madrid’s, a local favorite–the place you go to eat greasy food, stuff your face, and look forward to it again. It’s on the way towards downtown on good ol’ San Pedro, so afterwards we headed further south to the city park on San Pedro.
It’s just behind this beautiful old theatre that I’ve heard about but never been to (hmm, maybe I should add that to my list), and as we walked by the theatre and headed into the park, I was amazed to see this fresh water pool. Luke swears he’s told me about it before but I never knew what he meant, so I’ve always resisted (even still, I’m not sure what’s in the water and do I really want my kids swimming there?).
The Cypress Trees were huge and beautiful, and the water was gorgeous, though mossy. I was amazed we had never been there. I was thinking, what a hidden beauty, where are the north side San Antonians? Why do people keep moving north and tearing down trees and building new structures to play on when there’s something like this, old, steadfast and true, sitting there to be enjoyed.
But if I’m honest, I know why. And I know why in recent years I wouldn’t have felt so comfortable hanging out here either. And even now I wouldn’t want to be there after dark or even by myself.
And I’m sure it’s because it’s kind of gritty–and in reality, we were the only white people there. There were a couple of homeless people sitting next to the water, resting, maybe bathing, who knows. There was a snuggly couple embracing the water, bikini clad and all. There was a paleta man ringing his bell selling paletas (Mexican popsicles which we love).
There were adult baseball teams playing in the fields just behind the trees, and families playing on the playground (which I didn’t snap pictures of because by then it was too dark). And on the way out there were guys doing dangerous tricks on their bikes which quite alarmed my children.
But the whole experience was loved by my kids. It was beautiful. It was provocative. It was uncomfortable but yet so comfortable. It was my city. I felt like it was the epicenter of our culture. It felt like real life was happening. People resting on a Friday night after a long week of work. It was far from pretentious and distant from being any kind of display at all.
It was refreshing, because even though we were somewhat of oddballs in the place, I also felt very unnoticed, which is a feeling I don’t mind–when I’m noticed, then I’m self conscious and self aware and then I can’t enjoy myself as much.
I felt like an observer–I was soaking it all in: the way my children embraced a new locale and were sort of in awe of the place, the way they didn’t notice the people that usually we feel uncomfortable with, the way they climbed trees with reckless abandon (I freaked a bit about that).
I’m thankful for knowing a little bit more about my city and our culture. How does this change things for me? I’m not sure. But if I live here, I should know the heartbeat of the town and ponder it deeply, mostly for the sake of the Gospel and wondering how it meets places like this, people like these.