As you may or may not have read in my previous entry- this Thanksgiving I made the tough decision to not go to The Woodlands to spend Thanksgiving Day and break with my aunt, uncle, and cousins and instead decided to stay in Austin and go to my first Texas versus Texas A&M game.
So there went my first Thanksgiving without my family.
But, I didn’t mention the second part to my Thanksgiving break. My aunt, her mom, and my cousin Iliana drove all the way to Austin, picked me up on Friday, and then headed to the Alamo City… San Antonio to spend Friday and Saturday together and make up for being away for Thanksgiving Day and for so many weekends in comparison to previous semesters when I was able to take trips to see them more often. And it was definitely a perfect time for us to see each other and spend time together because they never fail at making me feel like home with them and of course, loved and cared for.
Even though this was not my first time in San Antonio, it was definitely special. I had been to San Antonio twice: with them for the first time when I was 12 and then with my friend Felicia, who is from San Antonio, last year.
San Antonio- just the idea of it- is pretty special because my closest friends-including Felicia, Regina, and Jimmy- were born and raised in San Antonio so I have definitely heard a lot and often about San Antonio- things that I can’t possibly remember from my visit when I was younger. What has always been interesting to me is that I have yet to hear any of my friends say that they want to leave San Antonio eventually, or things that they don’t really like, or that they are not going to go back when they graduate. So I always thought there had to be something about San Antonio that makes it so special aside from it being their hometown.
And last weekend I figured out at least part of it.
We drove to San Antonio and then in the evening we went to the River Walk where the Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony was going to take place. If you have never been to San Antonio, you have to! Take it from an unbiased (well, perhaps not completely, but mostly) person like me. There is a strong feeling of community and definitely a lot of culture. I think that no matter where you are from, you will feel like home when you visit- and if not that, you will have to admit that there is definitely a warm feeling to it!
We waited about an hour until it finally got started and the trees along the River Walk were lighted. But that hour waiting was completely worth it- because Iliana and I had a fun cousin-to-cousin time that we rarely have. She is 13 and is already taller than me (although let’s be honest, does it really take that much to be taller than me? No.) and it wasn’t until then that it hit me how fast she has grown. She is a teenager. And although technically I am still one until December 21st (yes, the day I finally turn 20!) I am close to the completion of that stage and it had been long since I had had been able to have a teenage moment with her, or getting to know the teenage Iliana. It makes me feel old to not know how teenagers are “these days.”
I think that for many years I still had the younger Iliana in my head that liked princesses and with whom I used to sing along to Shania Twain and the Backstreet Boys in the car when we first met. As I grew older I thought that we had grown apart, me into my maturity stage and her into the world of being a teenager. But this night proved me quite the opposite, that we are closer than I thought we were- and it hit me, she is growing up, and so am I. But even then, we can both laugh at the same things and during the time we spent together, Iliana made me feel free of worries- for a moment she brought me back to those younger years- for that while I didn’t think of the tests I had to take, of the stress of school, of how tiring the past few days had been- she might not know or understand this, but I think one day she’ll understand how much it actually meant without her even knowing.
For a moment, tough, I wanted to press pause and keep her from growing up so fast!
It is unbelievable to think that the little girl I met when I was 12 is now a little older than I was then, is getting ready for high school next year, and when I least expect it, she will become a Longhorn, too, although she is one at heart already.
So I came back to school with a much better understanding as to why my friends from San Antonio love their home so much, because it almost felt like home even though it isn’t mine! I came back charged up to finish this semester strong *hopefully* , face the two government exams I had that week, and complete a Family History Research Paper for my history class. And I came back to enjoy the last few days of the semester and make the most out of them regardless of all the studying and end-of-semester activities that are taking place. And of course, start the official birthday countdown.
…and speaking of countdowns, my aunt made me come to the realization that this was my second to last Thanksgiving in college. How did THAT happen?