Small victories. Sharon told me that Christmas isn’t going to come this year if I can’t think of something that God’s teaching me each and every day of advent. Because I don’t really like Christmas, I was going to try to hold out and not learn anything until then but I slipped today. I realized today that I’m learning to enjoy small things …a lot. Not to enjoy things like kittens and my wife and things that are actually, physically small and adorable, although I do enjoy those things quite a bit (anyone wanna buy a cat that’s not small and cute anymore?). I’m learning to enjoy people being too loud to allow me to sleep. I’m learning to enjoy buying tape. I’m learning to enjoy making someone laugh.
Since I arrived here, I’ve felt a bit like someone who just awoke to discover that they were completely paralyzed. As Sharon noted in her last post, things are very different here. It’s been partially a language barrier, of course, and a feeling of being disconnected but it’s also been a mentality issue. People here just don’t think I’m funny. And I know you guys don’t think I’m funny either, but they don’t even pretend very often here. I’m so used to arriving in a new place and I may not have friends but I always can find people to laugh with. And I’m always the crazy one one. “Tyler! You didn’t come back till 3am! You need to take it easy, man!” Also not the case here.
So anyway, my wife went to the beach with her internship this weekend which gave me some time to do all the hardcore physically exhausting work and play that I normally feel bad for asking her to do with me. So after a whole day of stretching on my bed and 56 consecutive yawns without an actual word leaving my mouth, I rolled over. That was nice. I thought I might try it again later when I had regained my strength. For now though, I would need to sleep. The day had come and gone and night is for sleeping. Suddenly and without warning (de pronto), crazy loud music erupted from 4 blocks away. Not bad music at all, but very very loud. I tried putting a pillow on top of my head and closing the door to the balcony but I swear the doors down here are made of paper. You can hear someone turn on the faucet across the street through these doors and they were not gonna stop this noise…not in the slightest. The thing was, it really wasn’t that bad. I had some coke (the cola, mom), I had some Fernet Branca*, the night was cool and there was a breaze. I didn’t do anything spectacular like go out and dance at whatever wild party was happening a few blocks away. I think I mostly checked e-mail and read up on the changes that are coming to WoW (why are they ruining my favorite video game), but when the music stopped it was almost six in the morning and I had had a great night. I was a little tipsy, the music –it turned- out had been really good, and as a cool breeze blew across the balcony where I was sitting looking over the city, I found myself wishing that they’d play one more song. I didn’t really need sleep that badly.
Morning always comes. Getting up for school today was rough. When I got to the subway stop where I catch the train to class, I realized that I forgot my thermos. Maybe not that important to you the reader but I promise that the wrath I would have called down upon the world were I to have gone through a day without my thermos would have quickly changed your mind, and so I returned home. There was on old lady at the door to the apartments. I wondered whose it was. This old lady had obviously been delivered here. Should I just assume that it was mine? Best to continue on. Wouldn’t want to take somebody else’s old lady.
~Very quick Spanish from behind me~
~She points to the door~
I realized that she didn’t have keys. This may not be my old lady but perhaps it would be okay if I borrowed it for a bit. I let her in to the apartment building, expecting the usual awkward attempts at speech that are always thwarted by my inability to comprehend or respond.
At the elevator: “¿Qual piso?”
We begin our ascent and then it happens. She asks me if I’m studying. Wait! I understood what she asked! I tell her yes and she asks what. I say Spanish and she asks if it’s just Spanish. I say yes and look embarrassed. We’re at her floor but she just opens the door so that nobody can call the elevator and we keep talking. When she finds out I’m from the states she tells me that her son works in Miami doing photography. This is going great! I’m feeling comfortable so I go for a small joke…I know I shouldn’t but I do anyway.
“Oh! Creo que lo conozco” (Oh! I think i know him!)
Yes I know. It’s not that funny. She laughed though and we talked a bit longer before I had to head out for school once again.
On the way home from school I stopped at a ferretaria (surprisingly not a store for purchasing ferrets but a hardware store. Go figure). The cord for Sharons laptop is breaking and I needed some electrical tape. Pretty boring stuff ensued. I asked if she had tape, and was presented two options of types of electrical tape. I was quoted a price, and I paid. We told each other thank you and goodbye. I left. Three blocks later I caught myself flipping the roll of tape like a coin humming a song I was apparently making up, and with a big dopier-than-hell straight out of the 1950s grin on my face. And do you know why? Small victories. I bought tape today. I made someone laugh today. I couldn’t sleep so I was forced to listen to a city, to look at it, to feel it until I could see that it was beautiful. Small victories.
Take care, loved ones and hopefully I’ll nab some more time to post in the near future.
*Fernet Branca: There is a whole genre of liquors originating from Italy that were originally marketed as medicine. Almost every village had their own type at one point. It seems this particular one was brought here with the Italian immigrants but I can’t say that I’m sure of that. In any event, this is one of the preferred hard alcohols of Buenos Aires and is usually consumed mixed with coca cola. It, like all of its kind, is disgusting, tasting akin to rubbing alcohol used to clean out an ashtray. But disgusting in a good way. Like how on road trips I have the urge to eat deep-fried macaroni bites from jack in the box. It’s THAT kind of disgusting.