When I get a few minutes of free time and I can sit and think, I lately find that my mind tries to reach back for some distant memory of the last two years in Argentina that I haven’t touched on in so long. But these memories are so far gone, so foreign to me after all that I’ve been a part of, that it’s like reading about someone else’s life. It doesn’t seem like me. It another time, or another part of the world for sure, but most definitely not now or who I am. It’s even worse when I try to think of Ecuador almost three years ago.
I think of specific details when they’re available to me, like my arrival on a cold and overcast morning in August, 2009. Going on the highway from Ezeiza International Airport we pulled into La Boca, and I thought to myself, “For this I could have stayed in Ecuador.” Things got off to a rough start, but soon my friend Kristine visited after just one week, and everything was looking up.
I think back to how we wandered around San Telmo getting to know the streets, perhaps unwisely walking around Constitución at night and then back to La Boca well into the night by myself. We met a Spanish girl named Iris and went to Colonia, Uruguay where we argued about whether the Río de la Plata was a river or part of the ocean. I was wrong, fooled by the way the sun set to the west of the river which I knew to be on the eastern side of the city.
I try to think of every place I lived in (5 different apartments) and how each place was odd and a new thing at first. Soon they became my home and a small sense of reality and sense in my abnormal life. What did I do as a newcomer who lived in the Microcenter? How did I spend my weekends living alone and practically friendless in Plaza Italia? What did I do after work in Recoleta? I try to reach back for these day to day memories which amount to nothing much priceless reminiscence and though would be boring to a friend, made up what was my life in Buenos Aires. Those little things which no one will ever touch or know.
I reflect on my life in a sort of before and after, using my current home base as the after, when things started looking up. I was saving more money on cheaper rent, loving the new apartment and area, and joining a running team that kept me busy after work and introduced me to new friends and challenges (the good kind). And soon these last 6 months will also be in the before time. I can’t go back and change the bad memories though I try in my head all the time, wondering what would have happened if I said or did something differently or if I took that job or lived in a different part of the city. In the end it gets me no where but back to where I started, confused and trying to remember what I’m doing here in the first place.
And then I go back to the little details of my bedrooms in Ecuador, or my morning routine before work. Again, it’s like reading a book about someone else and I think that this isn’t me. This couldn’t have been something that I did because it’s a thinner person who’s more sensitive to other cultures, and it’s not in Sharon, Massachusetts or with the people I grew up with all my life. But there are actual pictures and articles published, and of course a blog which has documented it all along. So though I feel as if it’s a parlor trick, I know that it’s real and these things did happen. I existed here.
I feel so strange to be going back home and the combination with lousy weather has me in a sort of funk—not happy, not sad, but indifferent. I’d like to combine both worlds but unless I get some kind of amazing job which gives me 6 months here and 6 months there, it’s unlikely. Yet I’ll still take the memories with me until my brain starts to fail me, and the knowledge that at one point in my life I lived out my dream of living abroad in South America.