Thursday, December 3, 2009

alone in argentina

I got into Buenos Aires yesterday morning. After the very friendly taxi driver tried to charge me more than twice as much for the fare, I was deposited onto the bustling Calle Lavalle, a pedestrian-only strip surrounded by restaurants and shops and portenos marching around at a NYC pace.

The four-story climb to my hostel is worth it. My room is set with three single beds, separated by two nightstands. The senora of the house instructed me to sleep in the middle one. I would have laughed if I hadn't been so confused, because she had also just told me that the room was all my own. But, like a good houseguest, summarily took a shower and passed out in said middle bed. I love my room. It has a perfect one-foot-deep balcony with French doors draped in transluscent yellow netting, bathing my room in a golden glow of sun and cigarette smoke.

It is something like heaven.

Because I will be here for so long, I don't feel compelled to charge around in tourist mode. I spent a few hours yesterday and today trawling around and perfecting my use of three words: hola, si, and lo siento. "Hola" of course is hello. Then I say "si" to show that I can understand, but not really respond in a much deeper manner. And then I say "lo siento" to everyone who asks me for money or any further information, because I neither have the language capacity nor the pesitos to be of much help at all.

Last night it was my intention to take a nap and then go out for dinner, but I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I just ate a granola bar and went back to bed. And, although I'm no stranger to eating in restaurants alone, the thought of it made me lonely more than excited.

Cue surreal single-note piano music.

I thought it would take a few days, por menos, for me to feel lonely and confused, but it only took ten hours. The night before I left, I dreamed of the boy who I went out with on Monday. Last night, I dreamed about Joe. And during today's highly unsettling afternoon siesta, I dreamed of Ex. This is not the kind of loneliness I was anticipating. It is deeper and weirder and more unwanted than any loneliness I've had before. But it is not alarming, mostly because I have nobody to talk to about it. And it only surfaces in my sleep. I guess that is reason enough to stay conscious.

The big-city aspect has a lot to do with it. My last two solo travels, I went to small places, where people would stop and talk to you and welcome you. When you come to a buzzing metropolis, the world does not slow down to fold you in. Big cities are all alike in that way. Part of me wants to leave and go to a smaller town, but I know I will stay here at least until Christmas. I am definitely the kind of person who pushes herself through things, the more distasteful the better, just to prove that I can do it. I also believe that the harder something is, the bigger the reward: no pain, no gain. But this trip isn't really about proving anything to anyone, and besides, I just pushed myself through a crappy two-year program and I really don't think I'm any better for it. This trip is supposed to be just about doing whatever the hell I want to do. The problem is, a really large part of me just wants to go out and drink tons of booze.

Why is that always what I want to do?

But no, mother, that's not what I'm going to do. I'm going to be patient, try to enjoy myself, and finish up this novel that is apparently too long according to first-novel publishing guidelines. All this not-being-able-to-communicate is going to be good for my novel. I can tell.

1 comment:

keetens said...

OK...first of all, let's talk about how I love the spider icon. I tried to convince Sporty to go as the spider for halloween. No traction.

Secondly, I'm done with the GRE now and can give you an extensive and thoughful critique of your book. I should be emailing this to you but there you have it.

Third, I am sorry to hear you're lonely! I know that's kind of my "travel companion." But like I said to husband yesterday, you can't bitch out of loving isn't going to work. You can pretend you don't know what I mean if you want.