213 San Antonio, TX: Blurring the Line

At a used bookstore, I interviewed the woman behind the counter. She was heavy-set, with long dark hair flowing from her spherical head. She had on a red flannel shirt over a multicolored tie-dyed T-shirt on which rested a dog tag collar with no dog tag on it.

"Well, being born and raised in San Antonio, I can tell you: we may be number eight or nine on the population list, but everybody knows each other." She nodded a lot and raised her eyebrows to reinforce her comments. "Instead of six degrees, here it's like three degrees of separation. My mom's from here, and if I'm talking about someone, it'll be, 'Oh is that so-and-so's daughter?' It's like that. If I'm in a hurry, sometimes it's a hassle because everybody knows everyone; I know I'm going to run into two or three people [I know]. You can't just blow them off because they know people you know. You have to go, 'hey, how's your mom?'

"Culturally, it's not as diverse in some places. This town is All-American. People cut the lawns and yell at the neighbors. I fear that it will eventually become more isolated. People are moving farther out (especially people that are not from here). It's becoming car culture. And people I've met who are from there, I tell them to meet me somewhere, and they say, 'Oh, we don't go downtown.' And I'm like, 'Oh, my! Why not?!' It's kind of odd. I don't go out where they are. Because I don't recognize a thing. They're all strip malls. They all look the same. I get lost."

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