Every time I’ve tried to describe San Antonio to my friends from Vanderbilt I’ve failed miserably. They’ve asked time and time again, “so what IS San Antonio like?”, but the words always seem to slip off of my tongue and into the air around me, always millimeters from my stream of consciousness.
So after one semester of dodging this impossible question, I decided to go on a mission over winter break to finally and decisively understand and explain San Antonio.
So I came home. I documented the people, conversations, places, memories, and thoughts I had, hoping they would all fit together at the end of it all to create a seamless picture of my beloved home. However, at the end of those three weeks I sat on my bed with dozens of puzzle piece-shaped memories that refused to fit together. And it was then, in the midst of a whole lot of frustration, that I realized how incredibly special San Antonio is. It’s not just one type of person or family, and it certainly does not let itself be experienced in only one way. You see, I believe that San Antonio is a stubborn, prideful city- in the absolute best way possible. When tourists and residents try to put it in a box, it stomps its feet and crosses its arms because that box excludes some essential part of its identity. Because if you get the barbacoa and Big Red, you leave out the Christmas lights in Castle Hills. If you get the eccentric circus that is Southtown, you leave out the whirlwind Spanish spoken over homemade breakfast tacos. If you get the overpriced toddler boutiques of Alamo Heights, you leave out the fiesta stores on the river walk. San Antonio has so many more dimensions than a box, no matter how large it is, will ever be able to contain and that is why it is so unexplainable and so, so wonderful.
I think that is just what this country needs: un-explainability. Here in America we like to organize and label and put things in nice, neat boxes so we can show how put together and perfect we really are, a trend that started way back when the colonists asserted their superiority through the new concept of “whiteness”. White people needed to show that they had all of the answers so they made a system where white people definitively always had all of the answers because of their skin color, which in turn affirmed the fact that they had all of the answers. Diversity and the unexplainable go hand in hand because true diversity creates an environment that is unexplainable. So, I believe without getting our society to a place where we are okay with not having all the answers, where we are okay with the unexplainable, diversity and therefore equality, will never truly exist.