*erroring on the side of starting my blog before more time passes vs. actually learning the ins and outs of how to do this…bear with me!
So tired, overwhelmed with exhaustion, emotion, and last minute chaos in the airport pulling off small miracles to pay my reciprocity fee (law went into effect THAT DAY that you have to pay in advance…note to those visiting me!) and gushing my way through final “see you laters!”…I found myself landing in my new country of choice.
I mentally started naming everything in sight as my shuttle flew down the highway, to take inventory of my new surroundings and commit it to memory. It took 6 minutes to see my first pick-up footie match and longer to see my first Starbucks, whew.
I arrived to the hostel feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and not quite ready to be interacting. I was still trying to react to the stimulation overload…I’m in a new country, with a foreign language, with no plan, and I’m alone. This had been much easier and exciting to dream about and share with people in the comfort of my normal surroundings. And yet, there was still the feeling of wanting to be no where other than right here. For now, backpackers are my peers, my roommates, my friends, my family. You know you’ve overpacked when the height of their eyebrows gives the universal indication of “whoa”. Within minutes of dropping the two pieces of hand luggage to the floor, managing to get my precisely weighed 50.0 lb bag off my back without falling over, then unloading the day pack that was on the front of me, I am asked where I live.
Um…where do I live?
I don’t live in Denver anymore, not in Chicago. I don’t really live in Argentina yet, but that’s the closest to the truth. “Well, I live here.”
“Here? this hostel??”
“Um, yup. For now.”
In my head I’m thinking, holy shit, what am I doing here and what was I thinking?! The other travelers were supposed to be the ones who understood me and what I’m doing! I thought the hard part would be leaving home. HA! (or JA! en español) Nope. I shared my romantic story,
“I sold my house, my car, my belongings, and have moved here to explore, find a place to live, hopefully find some work, and write.”
“You’re doing WHAT?!?!?!”
And this was coming from people from Europe, Australia, Africa…people who had just finished telling me they are traveling for 3 months, 6 months, 2 years as if that were as normal as having a cup of coffee. I soon realized that I don’t feel like a traveler, but I don’t really live here yet, and I didn’t know it was possible for the emptiness of unknowns to feel so heavy like I can physically hold them.
Within a day though, I was able to let go of the idea that I was cheating on my dream and my quest towards fluent Spanish to just to be a tourist first. I wandered the city for a few days with a friendly Brit, bringing in the new year amidst fireworks in all directions, drums, dancing and champagne along the river. And I fell in love with Buenos Aires. It is so alive and vibrant with tree-lined streets and parks and plazas everywhere, bohemian markets, old world architecture and character, juicy, rich food, stylish and friendly people, sexy tango, and the best cafes. Inspiration will not be a challenge, restraint may be.
This is a city to experience, to live. Needing time to breathe and realize the responsibility and the possibilities of what has most recently become of my life, I opted (or attempted?) to live like a local. I rented an apartment for a week and in my best Hemingway impersonation (minus a few cocktails), I spent my mornings in cafes indulging in a cafe doble y alfajor addiction and my afternoons in parks lounging amongst the guitarists, families and friends passing maté, and seemingly a favorite: roller bladers. I read and wrote and read and wrote and smiled and ate and people asked me for directions. It worked, I blend!