Monday, April 6, 2009

Sitting and Thinking

This is one of the things I've had the pleasure of doing during my time here. Just sitting and thinking. This is actually the first time in my very long college career that I've not had to work full-time while going to school full-time. It's pretty incredible really. Out of all the things I'm going to miss about this place, not working is likely to be the first of them. So much so that I almost wish I'd never gotten the taste of it.

So today, I'm sitting here in a tea bar. It has a bright but soft and pleasing atmosphere. Nora Jones plays quietly in the background. Normally that might rub me the wrong way but she seems to complement and actually enhance this environment. I mean, I am drinking some kind of pretentious green tea with aged something or other and hints of this and that blended with the petals of some flower I've never heard of. It does smell delicious in here, and so does this overpriced tea. If I think in US dollars it isn't overpriced, that's what I do when I've spent too much money on something, I think in USD. I say "well that's really only (insert dollar amount here,) so it's not that bad."

I'm sitting here thinking about the time I have left in Buenos Aires. Although I'm more homesick than ever, I can't imagine leaving. I almost can't bare the thought of it. There is so much left to do! I feel like I can't waste a moment sleeping, or showering, or going to school. I must do something "Buenos Aires" at every moment! I still need to see Casa Rosada, the White House of Argentina. I still need to go to the Ecological Reserves, visit all of the museums in the city, go to all of the cool bars, go to all of the wonderful restaurants. My list goes on and on.

I guess the point of coming to live in a place for an extended period of time is that you get to experience a deeper layer of the city. Maybe I won't get to see every touristy thing to see, but I did walk with the funeral procession of the beloved former president Raúl Alfonsín. The man who first brought justice to the people of Argentina by finally prosecuting those who dirtied their hands in the brutally violent military dictatorship that preceded him. I witnessed first hand a little part of history.

I did get interact in the daily lives of porteños (that's what the people of Buenos Aires call themselves, port people.) I got to see how they live, how they behave, what they do. That's what I wanted. Those are the kinds of things you can't get from a two week vacation.

I'm going to miss seeing old people out for their daily walks in the arm of a caretaker or their grown child. I'm going to miss seeing the same chatty homeless lady that lives on either side of Las Heras depending on the time of day. I'm going to miss walking through the park by my house and seeing all the couped up children out to play, and the guy who sets up dozens of miniature easels to teach them how to paint. I'm going to miss my doorman. He greets me and every single time I walk in or out of the building. Every day I start my day with the same friendly face and the same genuine interest in how I'm doing and what I'm up to. I'm going to miss the cat that sleeps in the window of the vet's office on Parana. It's sleeping in the same spot every time. I stop to talk to it sometimes to make sure it's real. I'm going to miss La Cholita, which has come to be one of my favorite restaurants. I'm going to miss my host-family drama.

So, I'm letting myself off the hook today, with Nora Jones as my witness. I may not make it to Brazil, or Machu Picchu, or Patagonia, or Mendoza, or Iguazu Falls, or Casa Rosada, but I did get to experience things that a tourist couldn't manage even if they tried. These are the things I'm really going to miss. These are the things I'm really going to remember. And these are the things I will cherish.

Sorry, I've gone and gotten all nostalgic on you and I haven't even left yet.

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