Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Distant Dream Revisited

"Maybe I'll just move back to Buenos Aires" I told my Dad last night as we discussed my various life options.
"No!" he said, "It's too far." It does feel far- too far. Far enough that if I could I'd catch a flight to my Southern Paris just to make sure that it's still there. Last night while in bed I thought about this piece I wrote in January. It still feels appropriate and I figured I'd share it here. Besos!

I remember my second to last night in Buenos Aires and it's like watching a film play across the inner workings of my mind.The glow of the kitchen is pleasant. There are four of us at the kitchen table- my Buenos Aires self in my brown harem pants and tee, Eduardo and Claudia, of course, and one of their American friends- an intense woman with a tiny knowledge of Spanish and a much larger one of tango. She makes me feel as though I am cheating when I say something in English. It's not like I never speak English with my friends or on Skype but I never speak it in an audible voice in the kitchen- at least not in the presence of my Argentine padres. To speak it now feels strange. I'm self-conscious. The words come too easy- the accent is my accent. My vowels are long and flat with a Canadian lilt. I switch back to Spanish quickly- it is suddenly my security blanket. It covers my tongue like a thick caramel and wraps around it safely. The visitor doesn't seem to mind and we all try and make her speak Spanish as we cut through our lomo with steak knives and hefty appetites.
Claudia remarks on how my Spanish has started to retain a decidedly Argentine influence. I agree and we both mimic the most Buenos Aires-esque attitude possible. Eduardo and Claudia laugh at whatever it is I say in my vain attempt at being clever in Spanish.We continue talking of Buenos Aires and reviewing what I have learned together. Claudia thoughtfully assesses my progress like a mother viewing her young child's report card approvingly. She is proud of the way I've learned to navigate the subte and buses elbowing my way through like a true PorteƱa and how I have begun to tango with a slight but certain sort of confidence. She notes how I've completed my courses with satisfactory grades - a true accomplishment considering I barely knew a thing about Argentine history five months previous."You know so much now", she says. She has tears in her eyes.
The movie pauses. I don't remember what I said. I must have said that I'd never forget. I must have meant it too. Eduardo cuts into my post Buenos Aires self's reflection.
"Soon it will all feel like a distant dream," he says with the wise authority of one who knows. He always challenges my most naive and idealistic leanings in politics, religion and life.
"No!" I say as if saying the word with effort will prevent the inevitable from happening.
Deep down I know he is right. It's exhausting to maintain a forced nostalgia no matter how well loved the people and place are. I knew it was going to feel distant because Buenos Aires is so far away but I never wanted it to feel like a dream that is cloudy and blurred- as if it never happened.Now the experience is not a reality but a film that plays out various scenes over once a while in my crowded out head. It's no longer my present but something finished and fading.
Another scene comes- my last day in the Paris of the South. I'm still wearing those harem pants as I stand over the kitchen table arranging my laptop and camera in my backpack and crying. I can’t control myself. It was strange because I knew all too well that I'd sit contentedly at kitchen table in the family farm house in the North Country within 24 hours. That is not to say that I felt no sorrow in the transition but enough of me was relieved that the move was softened considerably. I thought it might- I took Edu seriously. But the weeks following many of my other trips were often filled with acute longing so I couldn't help but wonder if that would happen this time. When I look back on those other trips now- my memories are more or less snapshots and no longer hold the fluidity of film- and see the teen angst that much of the reorientation home produced I'm embarrassed and think it all a bit ridiculous.
But I really valued the friendships I made and I hated that tearing feeling that came with leaving them. They could no longer be organic once forced to continue through email and the occasional visit. Maybe when you come from a place like I do you don't take such things for granted- it's a fact there are few people here. Our population is one of villages- it is rural and frontier. Either way, the leaving and the mourning that was sure to follow each of my adventures made me feel at the very least human. It was good to care so much and love and miss with so much passion. Now I just feel stagnant. I do not have much feeling at all - perhaps it's because I'm drained from last semester and the work that remains to finish up my college education. I am not unhappy nor happy to be here or to be there. I just am...I cried on occasion once back from Argentina. I cried quietly and seriously but always alone and always at night. I had learned how to be nocturnal under the equator. And then I went back to Gordon. I cried there too. But that was it. It was like when it happened at the kitchen table in Caballitos. I couldn't control it. I couldn't stop it. I let it out and that was that. I didn't sit and yearn for things I couldn't have. I just was...But not even that- it's not like my existence is steady or settled. It's not like I've stopped tossing around questions and pursuing solace in my memories. But I am apprehensive.
Shouldn't I know where I am already?
Or who I am?
I promised Claudia to make a half-decent attempt at continuing tango. I so honestly wanted to and yet as I drive out across snow covered back roads and look out onto collapsing barns and over-grown hay fields my mind starts to wondering about other things in this world. I don't know that dance could heal it even if I could find a place to continue learning how to.
Maybe when I wish to dance a sad tango I could just buy some malbec wine and put a tango on my itunes or listen to my Bajofondo station on Pandora radio in my bedroom just like I did those nights I stayed in back in Caballitos. I wouldn't tango but I'd write and write as the hours slipped by.
Truth is, I don't know that I even feel up to that. I still have that paper to finish. I still have that application to fill out. I have to be up for work. I need to stop and think. Maybe I don't need to miss Buenos Aires so desperately and play it all over in my mind like a favorite movie one watches again and again. It might be better to keep moving. It'd be nice to know that it all matters and not have to trust that it does.
But the trusting part comes more easily now- maybe that's what is softening my many transitions into adulthood and new places. Maybe I'm not really apathetic as much as I am ready. Ready to be filled. Ready to be directed. Ready to be still. Maybe I can have both movement and stillness and both reflection and direction.Maybe I don't have to be scared that I don't feel more and that I don't know more and that I am not more. I suppose it is when we are empty that we have the opportunity to be filled. Maybe now is my chance to be filled with what really matters. It's when we are transparent and translucent that we can either fade into oblivion or let light shine through. That is something real to rest upon.


  1. I think you should write a memoir.

  2. This is a really beautiful piece. I knew as I read it, that I'd read it before, probably on your other blog... but I read the whole thing again. It's like from a book.

  3. I love this. Really really love it. And I love you!

  4. This is so comforting to me. It makes me feel okay about being a little uncertain.
    Thank you.