Of course, I knew this day would come and now, here it is, the final day when I close the door to my sweet apartment in BA and leave Buenos Aires behind. I have been the pilgrim, the wanderer, a seeker, a scout in my own kind of odyssey. And now, I’m down to the last few hours before lovely Marie and I share a limo to the airport. She’s off to Spain and Switzerland and I to Boulder, my home. I said my goodbyes and my cool portena friend, Liliana had a wonderful goodbye partyand included the people I hold dear in Buenos Aires. I took in my final view from her high-rise rooftop that has a panorama of the whole city, out across the Palermo parks to the Rio Plata. I’m all set with presents, great CDs, spices, fabulous new boots, books, drawings and some leaves, sand and shells from my journey.
I have many thoughts on travel, on hellos and goodbyes and certainly have a better understanding of how and why I came here six months ago. I left with some questions but found answers to questions I had not even asked . Yes, my marriage is big enough for a “time out” and is all the more enlivened by it. Yes, I can land in great big, crazy, foreign Buenos Aires and fit right in. Yes, at age 60 something, I can change it up and reinvent myself. These are empowering yeses! Forgetting how, remembering why. Forgetting if, remembering yes, forgetting seek, remembering find. (this, from e.e. cummings, in time of daffodils – one of my favorite poems, to follow)
So one question is; why do people travel? It’ a good topic of conversation and a question I am often asked. Travel, will make you question whatever myths you hold true. It will test your tolerance for everything: your willingness to engage rather than judge, re-think or reinforce your beliefs. It keeps you on your toes as you respond continually to everything around you and sharpens your inner radar as you navigate new subways, train stations, markets and crumbling sidewalks. One is called more often to your gut feeling when meeting new people; should I just move along, or, this could be interesting! That’s why it’s so exciting and makes you feel so alive. Travel is full of daily learning and accomplishments.
On a deeper level, as my friend, travel and food writer, Peggy Markel said, “it’s food for the soul“, giving new meaning to “soul food” (www.Peggy Markel.com). Your day is not defined by a schedule or job, you are not defined by a career or nationality, married or not, mother or not. You get to create each day filled with the newness of language, food, culture, people, places and experiences. And, when you spend a lot of time with yourself in a new place, filling each day with your own meaning, you feed yourself with that vitality.
And then, at some point, I began to feel life on the periphery. I read a blog about this very subject and wish I could credit the author (didn‘t keep his name), but he mentioned how as travelers, we are not the worker, but the customer, not the regular, but the guest and friends are all new. Travel keeps us on the periphery and in the end makes us want our place. I agree, my time is up in Buenos Aires and I look for my place and purpose again. When we get our fill of all the wonderful newness of a culture and the freedom of not having much stuff to care for or think about, we look to have a home again. As Dorothy so simply stated “there’s no place like home”, “there’s no place like home”. And so, here I go and my heart is beating faster as I get close to my Chris, my girls, my Boulder.
I left a lot out and perhaps will catch up on this blog site. Chris came for 10 weeks and we traveled to Mendoza, Santiago, Iguazu Falls and across Uruguay and I have a ton of pictures and more travel observations about these places. And, I have working titles for many new blogs like; Second Hand Sex in Buenos Aires, Baby O Baby, an observation of childhood here, The country in need of a screwdriver, Why the “cheek kiss” every time you come and go is so wonderful, Observations about smoking and making out on the street, Why people are out and about till all hours, How amazingly interesting, smart and sweet Portenos are, how relationship, in this case my marriage, can evolve in new and wonderful ways. All, future blog food. Plus, my friend, Juan from Talk Time and Leo, my dear, Mr. tambourine friend, Leo keep asking for new blogs.They’ve always encouraged the Donnie in me.
This morning, I went to my favorite bookstore for a final coffee. It’s one of those classic Buenos Aires neighborhood places on one of the lovely tree-lined Palermo streets which by the way, are turning golden with the fall leaves. It’s an old building with big open front windows, wood floors, bookcases with rolling ladders lining the walls, cozy tables and nooks with comfy sofas and floor lamps, a perfect small bar with great wines, coffees and pastries. They play the best music…cool Argentinean jazz, old Lou Reed or groovy electronic tango. It’s always busy; people sit for hours, talking, reading, kissing, reading.
The waitress brought my perfect café, a cortado mediano, a small plate of toasts with creamy cheese and jam, accompanied with the usual small cookie and tiny glass of sparkling water. I just love the ease and niceness of it all. And, then, I started to feel the sadness of leaving. I know I’ll be back, but now, I’m leaving and believe me, Buenos Aires has a piece of my heart. I felt kind of dreamy, just taking it in one last time and when I looked across the room, I think I saw a little hint of my future… it was like a small sweet painting.
I saw a nice looking mid-aged couple talking, reading the papers, enjoying their coffee and they had a baby carriage next to them, which they occasionally peeked into and then, smiled at each other. I realized that these were the grandparents and as I looked at them, I saw myself and Chris. No pressure meant to anyone, I’m just saying, this is where sometimes the heart speaks or one gets a glimpse of something more. I saw myself in that sweet painting.
So, in a few hours, Hello Northern Hemisphere, Hello USA, Hello Spring and oh, yes, hello daffodils.
in time of daffodils by, e.e. cummings
In time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so (forgetting seem)
in time of roses (who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if, remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek (forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me