We woke up on Saturday, March 16th, exhausted and groggy again in a Walmart parking lot. It was our 4th straight night sleeping in a car, our last shower had been 2 days ago and since then we’d been covered in the sweat and dust of festivals and bars in hot Texas weather. We felt pretty gross.
We were just north of San Antonio, and earlier I’d checked out some fun and free activities we could do while in the most southern city we’d ever had a Pocket Vinyl show. I’d been hoping on making it to the Japanese garden, but construction sent us instead straight to the Alamo. I’ll be honest, I tried convincing Eric to skip it when we arrived to stand-still traffic and ridiculous crowds. I’d had enough of both of those at SXSW. But Eric insisted, so we found some fairly inexpensive parking and wandered all around the Alamo, listening to people in garb from the time period explain why the Alamo is something to be remembered.
Even though Austin had been hot, it was nothing compared to San Antonio. We grabbed some ice cream cones and headed down to explore along the riverwalk. While standing on a little bridge enjoying the view and listening to the mariachi music wafting around us we noticed the click-click of a camera close to us. Turning around a guy with a large camera pulled out a notepad and asked for our names. He was taking photos for the local San Antonio newspaper and was featuring St Patrick’s Day Weekend. Remember how we’d been sleeping in the car and desperately needed showers? Guess we must be remarkably photogenic! Ha! You can see the photo of us in their St Patrick’s Day slideshow, here. Funny experiences seem to find us.
We were done with the crowds, so we went back to our car and drove to the other free attraction I’d found on-line before we got to San Antonio: The San Jose Mission. If you’re going to San Antonio, sure, see the Alamo because it’s the touristy place to be, but if you really want to see something spectacular, go check out the San Jose mission. The first thing I loved about it was there were no crowds at all. The place was practically empty. And it is so beautiful. Wonderfully preserved with gorgeous architecture and a really fascinating history, it apparently laid the architectural groundwork for future missions all over the country, perhaps even the world. Plus, they still hold church services there!
As the mission was closing for the evening we headed down the block to do a little internet catch-up at a McDonald’s. A couple dirty-looking young boys who looked about 12 sat quietly near us for a while, and as we were packing up to leave they told us that they were homeless and asked if we could spare some money. I’d been generous to homeless people in the past, but had been taken advantage of quite a bit, so I immediately told them no. Besides, we lived in our car! We were practically homeless ourselves. Back in the car we sat for a minute before Eric grabbed a $5 bill and ran in to hand it to the kids. Immediately they went to the counter to buy some food. I felt selfish and guilty. (More on this later.)
We drove across town to the Raven Hookah Lounge, where we’d be performing our Pocket Vinyl show that evening. The hookah lounge sat in a strip mall and we were quite early, so we wandered around, checking out the other nearby shops. One we were curious about was called The Spawn Point Gamers’ Lounge. They had a bunch of large TVs, computers, comfy chairs and beanbags, a couple old arcade games, and a really friendly guy behind the counter renting out video games and selling snacks. It was a pretty neat setup, and Eric & I both loved the small business enthusiasm of the place.
Around 10:30-11:00 we played our show over at the Raven Hookah Lounge, and I painted a girl with a fox head.
I might have mentioned before how in our merch setup, we have a little sign saying that if anyone wants to offer us a place to sleep, to please come talk to us. We can sleep in our car just fine, but if someone has a better idea we’re of course interested in hearing what it was. This was the most interesting one. The guy we’d met earlier at the Spawn Point Gamers’ Lounge had come to see us play our show, had seen our little note in our merch, and approached us a little sheepishly. As it turned out, for one reason or another, he had been sleeping in his car lately in the very parking lot of the strip mall. And he wanted to offer up his car for us to sleep in, if we wanted. He had an SUV-type thing that allowed the back seats to lay flat and we’d be able to more comfortably stretch out. He said the Gamers’ Lounge often stayed open until the early hours on the weekend, so he’d just crash in there for the night.
Understand this: this was his home, and he gave us pretty much everything he had. How humbling is that? Especially when I hadn’t even been willing to give a couple homeless kids a meal earlier that evening. Yeah.
So, our 5th night sleeping in a car, our second night sleeping in a stranger’s car.