Monday, November 13, 2006

Los Angeles Blues

I returned from lovely Buenos Aires on Sunday morning and have since tried not to be too down about having to leave. Initially, because I didn't stay in the touristy areas, the city was just another big jumble of hustle and bustle to me, not unlike New York or Madrid. But as I got to know it better and really get underneath the gritty surface, it started to grow on me and its rhythms suddenly became my own. And I fell in love with it, hard.

As my airport taxi pulled away from my apartment building and was driving through fadedly elegant Buenos Aires, I couldn't help it as the tears rolled down my face. Buenos Aires is an incredibly nostalgic and sentimental place, and I'm very much the same. Endings are always sweetly sad for me and I felt as if this wasn't just then end of a trip for me. I started this trip by turning 30, so in a way, this signified the end of so many things. I am trying not to think about it that way, though. This trip was the first major adventure of my 30s and the rest of my life. And that's the positive way to look at it... it was such a deliciously stimulating journey and in many ways, I learned so much about what is truly important to me.

I learned that true richness and depth of experience were absolutely more valuable than a fancy stay at a posh hotel. That being on foot was much more satisfying that sitting in a taxi. That green leafy trees and a blue sky produced more serene happiness than shopping for trendy clothes. That sleeping in and missing some sights was not a major catastrophe. That eating at home resulted in the best meals. In short, I learned that so many things that I thought were so important really aren't.

Since I've been back, I was pretty bummed to be back in Los Angeles. Kip calls this the Los Angeles Blues. After experiencing so many wonderful things, returning home to the mundane can be so depressing. For me, it has always been this way. I remember returning home from the Philippines fifteen years ago and just being so disappointed at the blandness of L.A.'s suburbian streets. I've lived in Los Angeles for most of my life and love so many aspects of it, but I must admit that it's just not stimulating for me anymore. And to go from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles is such a major let down.

Last night, I slept well and it definitely felt good to be in my own bed. I woke up feeling so much better, but then as I was flipping through the latest issue of Lucky magazine, there was a feature on Buenos Aires shopping with descriptions of the major barrios...and now, I'm really heartsick for my Buenos Aires. I miss speaking and thinking in my broken Castellano. I miss crossing the street without waiting for the "Walk" light. I miss walking through my barrio, Villa Crespo, to get to school and then filling up my self-service basket at my panaderia with loads of facturas. I miss taking the Subte, then the Collectivo and then walking through sleepy Colegiales to get to my morning tango lessons. I miss losing myself in the tango. I miss getting into taxis and giving them directions (usually "Estadio de Israel, entre Loyola y Castillo" or "Amenabar en la esquina de Cespedes") I miss concentrating hard in my Spanish class. I miss meeting so many well-traveled and anecdote-rich people from other parts of the world. I miss so much.

I know I'll return someday, but until then, it's a beautiful memory.

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