Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Breathe the Good Airs


Some days you just focus on breathing through it. Overload of work, people, city, whatever it is bearing down, your breath has that feeling at the end like you just ran upstairs too fast.

I’ve hung out with New Yorkers a lot this month and loved hearing their fresh take on this city. Similar perspectives all around on what's great and what lacks in Buenos Aires.

One comment stuck with me, the fact that people are quiet on the subway. It's a great thing to ride public transport in peace but yes, it's a bit odd to share space with so many silent beings, solemn on the subte, passive transit riders. It reminds me of what made me uncomfortable in European crowds. A sort of submissive group dynamic hangs over like a cloud, everyone obedient and well behaved.

I could probably do with some more of that exact quality though, more cooperative spirit please.

We all have our methods of getting through situations that sting. Today, mine feel like a bumpy ride on a narrow canyon road, winding through the dark, city lights below, danger around the bend. An ex boyfriend used to tell me about riding his skateboard down a road like that, up in the state park outside of LA. He and daredevil peers would take turns at high speeds, seated, like a roller coaster plunge, no security bars. Some days this month are like that, free fall ride on gravel, not sure if I’ll be okay when I stop.

Then I wake up the next day generally pleased with where I’m at and how and when. There’s no clear progression or paper trail to my world here, no climbing of ladders or buying stuff or family planning. There’s only the immediate rush of a romantic city, friends and outings, audio and visual. It’s all very here and now, unsettling for the future and typically Argentine in scope. The future always holds uncertainty in this country, economically and politically, so people plan and act short-term. Hence the lack of investment in private and public projects, immobility of social class, long nights out.

The end of something can be a downward spiral at times on a dark canyon road. It can be a retreat under the covers, a respite from the weight of compromise and responsibility. It can be a calm agreement to take an independent direction. I guess it’s each of those here for me this month in Buenos Aires.

Kasha and I moved into our new apartment yesterday. It’s really nice and in the best part of San Telmo, a half block from a friend’s house. I was lucky to find it through another friend and get on with the spring here in a furnished, easy, one bedroom with tasteful BA d├ęcor. I chose it over the huge antique house with cheap rent and English girlfriends. It’s out of character for me, completely, to be here instead but I’d reached my limit of instability. I needed easy, for now.

When I walk in the door I think of my grandma. She spent 40 years or so single in apts like this one in LA, nice, safe, no one to bother her. I have the space here to process this past year of living with someone who didn’t have time for me, which made me mad and then pushed us to an end. I can look forward to a better fit, sure I will, though maybe not in a foreign country.

Living here continues to be new and nice mostly, with adjustments that have to be made. Every day, there is something of the unexpected wisdom found in a different culture, a view of their take on business as usual, not like what you know.

I’m thinking life resembles the speeding canyon ride, in the absence of something to lock you down. When faith weaves in and out downhill and you are alone and human.

I’d like to use a hitchhiker analogy too but I think you feel me already.

(Next blog will be jam-packed with superficial blather about parties, trips, and other playgrounds, promise.)