Across the street from our colorful casita a lonesome voice sang a corrido, strumming a slow guitar accompaniment. I could not tell if the song came from the balcony or the porch, obscured by bushes. The next night the sad songs repeated, echoing my youngest son’s anticipatory nostalgia on graduating from Trinity University, soon to leave San Antonio forever.
A couple of blocks down the street are San Antonio’s oldest cemeteries, where a few paces separated a few graves of Bravos and Martinezes few decades old from the much older and more abundant Woefel and Spanseil and other German and English graves of the 1880s. This is what Ed Snyder says: “The City Cemeteries were the first public cemeteries in San Antonio − City Cemetery No. 1 was established in 1853, and the Alamo Masonic Cemetery next to it a year later. You really won’t find many tombstones dated before 1853, as Texas was only annexed to the United States in 1845.” You should read his whole post, though.
A pair of red tailed hawks endured attacks by great-tailed grackles and mockingbirds before soaring up. Next door five very small dogs attended to the street from behind the safety of their fence. Next door the other way two boys dolphined with delight in their above ground pool as their younger sister watched from the ladder, lifting her dress above her head to plunge in up to her panties.
Our house was as green as the youngest grass, encased in metal, doors and bars. The floor was glossy treated concrete, immaculately clean. Bedrooms flanked the living room, two left, one right, the master, with two closets. Behind was the kitchen and eating area, back towards the joyful voices of the splashing boys. The single bathroom was plenty, requiring only a little talking and planning. Our intense green home was not a microhome now so popular, for it clearly had a family in mind.
Ours was one of several on the narrow lot with a parking lot out front. The pink home housed the maintenance man who told me the dogs in the neighborhood would not bother me, if that was God’s plan. Esther dressed, curled, combed, and cut hair in the front yellow building. I wondered what these homes once were before Esther found Airbnb. Was I living in a home where families had flourished, sons in the west bedroom and daughters in the east? Esther’s father built her these homes to rent out back in the eighties, she said, a little business on top of dressing hair.
Music, playing boys, curious dogs, ancient cemeteries, and wild birds make up this unique and central neighborhood. So the real question is, who would choose a soulless hotel in concrete San Antonio when you could have your own snug casita with Esther’s glossy brown floors?