I am given thirty minutes, fifty dollars, to walk the shops and find a souvenir. Strange to feel like an outsider, to greet shopkeepers with “hello” and be recognized for a northerner as soon as I speak.
Boots, trinkets, blouses, plaques, all lie about as if they know they are practically useless. I cross streets, duck in and out, merely crack the door in one shop before closing it. In another, I only glance through the window. I am one of few shoppers, feel conspicuous but adventurous, somehow braver for looking older, chic but dignified, wearing clothes edging dowdy on a twenty-year-old: my grandmother’s linen pants and a well-made shirt and scarf. I feel safely unexciting until a car passes and two young men whoop.
I awkwardly cross the street, smile at the police officer who has been watching my inexperience on display, and smile broadly as I cross the parking lot to the cobalt-blue rental car. My five-dollar-and-forty-one cent souvenir bumps against my legs, and I think how strange I must be for buying a stainless steel mixing bowl in an antiques shop in Bandera.