Photo Credit: Bucaorg
We’re leaving in two days, and I’ve been procrastinating to write. I didn’t know how to conclude this part of my history at this point. I’ve been editing drafts in my head for two weeks. I wanted to write a Dear John letter. Buenos Aires, I love you, but it’s time we see other people. I adore you, but maybe more like a friend. I wasn’t serious about us long term. Actually, I just happen to be going out with Chile, your arch rival…
More than anything, I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve changed since I’ve been here, and how moving always provides the opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves.
After living here for ten months, I’ve realized that being what some call “poor” in the United States is considered well-off in another country. That people will do inventive and humble things to in order to survive, including selling socks and bobby pins on a subway. That truly being poor means living in a “villa,” the slums put together with odds and ends. I’ve learned the discomforting truth that some people are born in a social class and may not be able to overcome it, despite that everyone’s due the “American Dream.”
The dogs are a fabric of my days. Wherever I walk, I follow dog walkers and their cheerful herds. When I used to leave for school in the morning, a lady dog walker stood and waited for one of her clients to come out. I always found her staring down adoringly and petting a golden retriever who smiled so big and looked back adoringly back at her. There are some dog walkers who tie their dogs in the park all day so they can bark themselves hoarse, but there are some walkers who are clearly in it for the love.
Milongas and the strange mixture of intentions from different dancers. The hope for a matching rhythm, a good embrace, a shared laugh, a man’s card, a woman’s number, “English lessons,” “tango lessons,” another tanda, a complete tanda, no more tandas at all. The smell of vanilla cologne. The heavy wheeze of a life long smoker. A courtly accompaniment back to a lady’s table.
The sun worshipers sprawled out in the city parks like the beaches of Punta del Este. Leathery, spotted skin. Fish lips and fake breasts. At the gym, anorexic girls who watch themselves in the mirror as we kickbox together.
Most of all, I will miss the shabby, broken apart sidewalks and collectivos. There is a freedom to get around this city with only a 30 cent ticket each time. Travel possibilities. Everything’s within reach of the buses, and they come one after another. I want to keep riding past the antiquated Victorian apartment buildings with outrageous graffiti and teenagers smoking on the corners. Listen to the beautiful sound of castellano that I can understand now but could still improve on speaking. Share more bottles of wine with friends over some of the best pasta in the world. Keep staring out at the night landscape of high rise apartment buildings that never end. Kiss a hundred more cheeks hello and goodbye.