Musical Memories

6 Dec

I went for a run this morning in Puerto Madero. With a channel of water and wide avenues, it’s a great place to do some physical activity without fear of being hit by a car straight up. It was only the second time I’d gone running in Argentina, the first time being in October for the Nike 10k. I really miss going for runs, which is why I’m going to be moving out of the Microcentro in February to be closer to some parks. In the meantime I took it easy this weekend, so figured I would take advantage of a clear mind and body to get a run in.

It went well, and once back in the apartment, I sat on the ground as The Black Keys played. I was listening to “Attack and Release,” which in my opinion is one of their best albums. If you don’t know The Black Keys, they are a group of two guys who play deep blues and rock. As the blues kicked in, so did some thoughts. Running was something I picked up in Cuenca (same thing with The Black Keys), and just the action of a prolonged run reminded me of Ecuador. I laid down and looked up at the bland, white ceiling. With nothing to see, my eyes went out of focus and I went back to Cuenca.

I thought of the little things that I never bothered to write down and had steadily forgotten. Those little things that brought momentary happiness to me in tough times. Coming back from class at 3 pm, the heat emanating in the streets, I would stop in at the panadería Tres Estrellas on Hermano Miguel y Juan Jaramillo and buy a sugar cookie for 25 cents. Not every day, but as the year went on, more and more. (If you’re in Cuenca, stop in there for a cookie). It was like a little round dough of happiness that would make things OK for the 3 minutes or so I took to eat it as I walked home. Even if the classes were getting me down, a cookie made it better.

It wasn’t all good memories that The Black Keys brought out, though. I wondered what I should do for the day, and then I thought about what I used to do in Cuenca in my spare time. Before I made some good friends there, I had a lot of time on my own. A typical Saturday would be wake up, dick around, go outside for a bit, maybe head to a movie store to see what they had, come back for lunch, dick around, and then try to find a way to kill time until Monday. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re the only company you have.

Sometimes on a Sunday I would go for a coffee at Raymipampu, one of the only restaurants open on the deadest day of the week. I hated going their once because they ripped me off (a whole dollar!) but there weren’t many other options. Of course, by the end of the year I had made great friends, and it was more of a matter of not having enough time, rather than too much. And more doors seemed to open as the year went on, regardless of whether or not they were cafes, restaurants, or a friendly house.

A bus ride through the mountains with no sun at such an altitude. The clouds moving in fast through the open bus windows, and looking up realizing that the driver had zero visibility, yet continued at high speeds around sharp turns. Just close the eyes and trust that he knew the way well. Look out the window and see some kind of impossible drop to the center of the earth, look back up and see Jackie Chan mumble something incoherent in Spanish as the smell of choclo and cheese wafted down the aisle. Such a typical scene, really. There are hundreds of little memories like this that no one will ever hear, and what scares me is that the more time that passes, the less I’ll remember.

Back in the room in Buenos Aires, with the sweat stopping and the blues continuing, I had to face reality. The friends are still in Cuenca, but we are in two different worlds right now. I imagine that yesterday they continued the tradition of Saturday Cookfest in Lucho and Charlie’s apartment. I wonder what they made this week. More chick parm? Ceviche? Or something totally different? Something so different about these two lives I’ve led in Ecuador and Argentina is simply expectations. I expected so much to be different in Ecuador, and it was. Every day was another shock and thrill. Argentina, while interesting, follows more or less the pattern of a life I’d imagine back home. Hopping in the back of a random pick up truck in Ecuador is natural and common. In Argentina, the chances of that happening are slim.

I live with these differences every day, and they’ll always be there, long after I return or go to wherever it is I’ll be next. Sometimes I’ll forget, yet other times those memories will be strong and vivid. All I’ll need is a song.

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