Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I am a visitor here, I am not permanent

Tonight I am meeting some ex-pat friends of a friend who live here in Buenos Aires. I am thoroughly looking forward to meeting them and hearing the real story about what life here is like. In the meantime, I have become friends with some of the other students at the language school as I hoped I would. They are truly in the same place as I am; a city they are seeing through the rose colored glasses of being on vacation here. We remain ignorant to the downside of living here as only visitors can. I've met two girls from Denmark and Brazil respectively who I've been spending most of my time with; we're all around thirty, single, here alone and getting away from very busy lives back home. Relationships made while traveling are of a special variety that isn't necessarily available to us in the rest of our lives; they are instantaneous, uncomplicated and usually fated to remain forever sparkling and untouched in our memories.  

I remember visiting New York before I lived there; I remember how every mundane thing was a thrill when I was visiting and how it seemed such a different place when I came to live there. It would be the same thing anywhere I know. Life is life wherever you go, you can't outrun it and the longer you stay some place the deeper and more complicated your relationships with the place and the people there become.

It's a little hard to think of going back to cold, dark Seattle right now. The warm summer breezes and the seeming ease of life here is lulling me into a stupor and it's hard not to toy with the idea that it doesn't all have to end. And yet, in this day of constant communication I find my real life is reaching me here no matter how many miles away it is. News of a friends declining health, news (or rather no news!) from agents about the book and work email can all still reach me.

The question is, can we really ever get away from it all?


  1. Twisting the Kaleidoscope brought me here.

    I'm impressed with your ability to see things so clearly. In my days of travel, before the shackles of parenthood were put on, I was never so grounded. I got sucked into the cyclone of the visit, often thinking that, indeed, I was a permanent resident. At one point, I actually needed to be extracted, very much like they do in the movies.

    I love this line, about relationships. "...they are instantaneous, uncomplicated and usually fated to remain forever sparkling and untouched in our memories." So absolutely true.

  2. You're absolutely right. The problem is that our relationships do deepen in meaning and complexity over time. It's a very different thing to meet someone in a confined space and time than to form a lasting friendship around the demands of everyday life. That's the beauty of travel. It provides both an open vista and a set of firm limitations, all at once. You have access to a new way of experiencing the world and the people in it, because you took the leap and stepped outside your life at home.