up to now

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I’ve got an extra week in Buenos Aires, a bonus bit of time that I wasn’t supposed to have.  I owe an explanation.  I’ve had the original draft going for over three weeks.  I couldn’t pull it together, couldn’t seem to find a way to express how I feel just by waking up in the middle of this city.  And so I avoided it like I try desperately to avoid the tokens of appreciation left by four-legged pets on every sidewalk of San Telmo.  For the record, San Telmo is my favorite barrio anyway.  I’d start to write, and then I’d allow myself to be distracted by whatever or whoever was in the periphery.  Sometimes it would be the white-haired woman who wears lipstick and slingbacks to walk her poodle down our street.  Or the guy who works at the corner pizzeria and makes deliveries on rollerblades.  Or the granular chip on the side of the nearest espresso cup.  You get the idea.  I owe an update to those of you who have been with me during this twelve thirteen week process, who sent me off with enthusiasm, whose unwavering support and words of encouragement keep it worth it.  You are the reason I have this blog, and I am so lucky to have you.  A thousand times, thank you.

My first time in Buenos Aires was exactly two years ago.  I came with two friends and without expectations of what the city would be or how it would feel.  During those six days, it took hold of me like no place I’d visited ever had.  It broke through a fog of mid-twenties cynicism, the type that stems from a place of naivete, soaked me to the bone, turned me inside out, and left me with an unshakeable yearning to return.  I was hooked.  That trip was the start of something, but I didn’t yet have the self awareness to pinpoint what it was.

Six weeks ago, I began my second tryst under slightly less desirable conditions.  I was sick, faded, and I wanted to end the journey immediately.  I remember feeling that I would never take wellness for granted while traveling, or at any other point, again.  I mean, when I get a hangnail and I’m further than three hours from home, home feels about as close as the distance from Earth to Saturn.  So you can imagine how well I did with a horrifically volatile stomach in the opposite hemisphere of the planet.  As soon as I had an appetite again, that feeling of homesickness disappeared.  I started eating empanadas, and I haven’t stopped since.  So, family and friends, here it is.  I told you that I had goals for my time in Buenos Aires.  And, at the beginning of my sixth week, I have reached exactly one of these goals:  complete CELTA course, take Spanish classes, eat empanadas daily.  (Man, I actually feel relieved admitting it!)  You should also know that this goal requires almost zero effort since empanadas are not only sold on every corner but are also available for delivery.

I wake up somewhere between 9:30 and noon.  I drink a lot of coffee.  I sit in cafes and watch the  cadence of traffic and pedestrians and bikers that fill the streets and sidewalks.  I explore new neighborhoods.  When I do, I get lost.  I ask for directions in broken Spanish.  I find bookstores and record shops and boutiques and linger for awhile, sometimes picking up pieces of information from locals when I feel like asking, sometimes simply observing.  Last night, I took a private Lambada class, a type of dance that originated in Brazil.  I visited Mendoza and San Rafael with my friend Joanna, who took the photo at the beginning of this post.  She’s awesome, isn’t she?  We met Sebastian in San Rafael, and within twenty minutes of wine tasting at his family’s vineyard, he invited us to his home and discreetly kept our glasses full, which eventually led to a series of ridiculous photos like the one below.

Nickie and I share a small apartment in Palermo.  I met Nickie in New York through her sister, Natasha.  She convinced me to stay hours before I had to leave for the airport on Monday.  She made the extension of my trip possible.  She is a rockstar for so many other reasons.

I spend a lot of time at Natasha’s.  How she hasn’t tired of me yet is a mystery.  I try to cook for her as often as I can, so maybe this helps.  She is a big reason I decided to spend so much time in Buenos Aires.  She’s pretty incredible.

Kyle and Agustina are, of course, another reason.  (I’m sorry.  My word find sucks today).  They are quite the beautiful pair, and two of the most generous people I know.  I’ll miss them, like always.

(Insert photo of K & A depicting their shininess here.  My computer throws a hell of a fit every time I try to access my folder of photos.  Once it’s fixed, I’ll post more).

Because it is now almost dark and I’m still wearing the clothes I woke up in, I’m going to end this here with the promise to be back.  Sooner.  With an illustrative recap of this final week in BA.  Have a great week, all.

  • Juan Roberto

    Hi there…i´m glad to finally read something in your blog…i love the way you make me see in my mind everything you right..is like reading a movie that i actually can see and imagine…so keep doing it girl…because i really enjoy it.

    Un abrazo y que estés bien!!!

  • kyle

    We have a spare bedroom now. If you come back, you won’t have to sleep in the living room. :)

    • jlgabel

      You moved? Or did you convert the breakfast area into a bedroom? I’d sleep on an air mattress any day of the week, especially if a tuna melt and a fernet and coke were involved.

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