Feliz Pascuas

Happy Birthday Braden!

And Happy Easter!

Driving back into the city Easter evening.

Today I went to my grandparents house…yes, I’m claiming Federico’s mom and dad as my grandparents, especially after Federico’s mom called me her grandchild today.  We had a relaxing dinner that Miguel prepared on the parrilla and salad and dessert and coffee.  We talked and relaxed and it was an absolutely wonderful Easter.  Thank you to my family here in Buenos Aires for making me feel like home.

Argentina's flag waving proudly as the sun sets behind Bs. As.

Driving back into the city Easter evening.

Picnic in the Park

Federico came down to my apartment around 11 this morning and together we went to the supermarket and the verdulería to buy supplies for the picnic today. We went back and made a ton of the most delicious vegetarian sandwiches you can imagine. Once again, Federico proves his cooking skills…with a sandwich at that. I am lucky to be his apprentice in the kitchen.

The picnic gathering included one of Fernanda’s good friends from school and her three kids: Julio, Nico, and Carla. Julio is about ten, Nico five and Carla almost three.   These kids…are absolutely brilliant. Not only are they smart, they are a ton of fun as well: climbing on the roots of ómbu trees, running races, and playing the serious face game. (Carla and I played and she beat me, but her reaction of pure triumph was totally worth losing. Federico, the one who just celebrated his ninth birthday on Tuesday I think, really got into the game and is practically a professional, and proud of it.)

We went to an art gallery near the park after Heinz joined us and after we sat on a blanket in the grass along Ave. del Libertador drinking mate and eating the leftover dulce de leche cake from Federico’s birthday. The night ended with Carla sleeping in my arms after we returned to the apartment. Carlita, Nico and Julia were exactly what I needed here in Buenos Aires; I was starting to become child deprived with all these grown-ups.

Mi familia

Federico and Fernanda are my parents here in Argentina. There’s no denying it by this point: they worry about me when I go out at night, they make me food and let me do my part in the kitchen, they help me with my homework, they ask about my day and actually listen, ease my frustrations when I complain and share the joy of my accomplishments. They ask my how my dates go and invite my friends over for dinner. They are my biggest influences as I grow as a person. They open up to me and let me open up to them and never judge me; they love me unconditionally and I love them and that makes us family.

Tonight we walked around a park in Palermo and then drove all over the barrio looking at apartments Fernanda used to live and studio spaces she wanted to rent out. Then we came back and ate together. And Fernanda and I talked long into the night.

Just like family.

Daily Revelations

Today Fernanda and I were talking and she told me that since Heinz and Dani were moving out of their apartment, their cleaning lady would be out of a job, and they didn’t want that to happen. So, they told Fernanda that they wanted to have her clean Fernanda’s apartment and they would pay for it. Fernanda said that they already have their cleaning lady, Margarita. (She is an incredible woman and has a special story of her own, like we all do in one way or another.) So Dani and Heinz said that she could clean the studio apartment, where I am staying.

I was leaning over the opening of the bar listening to Fernanda in the kitchen and I started tearing up. Not because I don’t have to sweep the floor anymore; that’s the last thing on my mind. My soul was crying as I imagined a world filled with people like Dani and Heinz, people who used their money to change people’s lives without hesitation. I thought that if everyone that had money did things like this, the world would be such a beautiful place. I kept dwelling on this thought the rest of the day, and I realized how unlike Dani and Heinz I was for even thinking such a thing. What Dani and Heinz have that most people don’t is a completely giving heart. Even if they had nothing, they would still find a way to give and change people’s lives. So in conclusion, if everyone simply does whatever they are capable of in this world, we will live in a paradise here on Earth, filled with love and generosity. I might not have a million dollars or ten thousand or a hundred, but I can still try to be like Dani and Heinz.

Money is just pieces of paper and sliced logs of metal. My parents always told me to save for a rainy day, but what if I’m not alive when it starts raining? Or what if it’s always pouring?
I guess the best thing to do is save for a rainy day, but not be afraid to play in the rain. Today I have something to give; I can’t wait until tomorrow, because there is no perfect time to give of yourself and all you have. That time is always.

Birthday Celebrations

We celebrated Federico’s birthday today.  I have to say that I love the Argentinian culture that continues to celebrate birthdays long after you have turned 18.  (Even though Federico still is a little kid at heart.)  I also have to say that the custom of not having one cake, but a minimum of five is always quite fantastic: pear cake, dulce de leche sheet cake, chocolate mousse layer cake, lemon meringue pie, apple cake, and not a cake, but alfajorcitos stuffed with dulce de leche and rolled in coconut.  Words do not explain…

…How lucky I feel to get to be one of the people that get offered the leftovers…Of course Fernanda, I will gladly store the untouched lemon meringue pie in the fridge in the studio downstairs.  But no promises it will remain whole.

Federico’s friends and family are incredible.  They stayed until one or twoish because a lot of them had to work in the morning, but Fernanda, Federico and I stayed up until close to four, talking and delving into seconds on the cakes.

Fernanda’s cousin shared this video with me.  It is quite accurate, unfortunately, but it’s completely hilarious.  It may be hard to understand all the jokes if you haven’t lived in Argentina a while, but the jist is that Americans sometimes say the dumbest things.

 

A Morphing City, or Rather, a Morphing Me

¡Feliz cumpleaños al profesor de todo!

Leonardo is not the typical English student, therefore we never have typical conversations.  For example, today’s discussion topic ended up being on Einstein’s theory of teletransportation.  But the rate at which he is learning is quite impressive, especially given the amount of time our spontaneous bouts of laughter consume.  An example of how well his English is progressing and his ability to make jokes:

The typical English student parts for the day by saying: Thank you.  Class today was a good start to the day.  It’s always a pleasure.

Leonardo, the atypical student says:  Thank you.  Class today was a good start to the day.  It’s always out of control.

He said it perfectly too, killing the punch line.  Ahhh…smiling all the way down Puerto Madero to class.

Yes, this is my job and it is awesome.


 

After two and a half months here in Bs. As., I’m starting to feel the city morphing around me a bit; I feel less anonymous and aimless.  I don’t think that it is because I blend in, because the applauses that I get as I walk down the street make me feel as if I should see if Bs. As. has a circus looking to hiring Americans.  Five pesos to step inside to see the stereotypical yanqui face framed in natural blonde hair.  The city just feels a little smaller because everywhere I go, there is always someone who is familiar with my American face and says hello.  Today alone on the street I saw Silvia, Fernanda and Federico’s English teacher, Agustine, my International PAL buddy from UCA who just happens to work at the same business that I give English classes at, my friend in the fruit stand who shot the breeze with me a bit and got all my fruit around for me.   ¿Qué más nena?  I saw you riding your bike past the other day, but you were going too fast and I didn’t get a chance to say hi.  ¿Qué más preciosa?  And then there is the absolutely gorgeous guy at the bike station in Parque Lezama who has officially memorized my entire passport number so that when I arrive all I have to do is tell him the number of my clave (pin number)—which I’m sure he has memorized as well, but asks out of respect anyway—and the bike number which I want to ride away in.  His smile alone makes my afternoon.  Then there is the stray dog I have adopted in Pto. Madero, and the woman who works at the fancy kitchen supplies store.   She lets me browse around and ask her where different kitchen gadgets are hidden in her store after I have my English classes at night.  Today, when I bought Fede’s birthday gift, I got to talk for twenty minutes to the college student who works there too about all sorts of random things from music to art to big cities as the woman wrapped Fede’s gift for me, the same gift the guy gave me a $15 peso discount on.  He asked me who recommended this shop to me.  I said, nadie.  Nobody, I always just pass by since I work in Pto. Madero.  I didn’t explain to him that I let the force drag me throughout my day and today, I ended up here, probably because subconsciously the man at the video store sent me.  Then I ended up taking a picture of a couple with a backdrop of El Puente de la Mujer and smiling at that rollerblader who jumped up onto the concrete bench and back off again like a pro.  Why?  So that he would meet up with me in San Telmo on his roller blades near the end of my walk and stop me to talk, saying he always sees me in Pto. Madero.  (Ahhh, yes I have a stalker.)  Ends up he’s an architect, loves art history, Renaissance Art especially, and lives right at the edge of Barracas less than five minutes from me.  I walked as he roller bladed and we talked the rest of the way home until we parted directions.

Where was I going with this?  Oh.  I don’t feel invisible anymore in this city.  I feel like the city has morphed to make room for me and I’m not just taking up space anymore.  I used to love the anonymity of being alone amidst the masses, but I think the city is slowly changing me, and I would much rather be greeted with a kiss on the cheek and smile knowing that its not just me here in this city roaming alone throughout my day.

Like Fernanda told me the other day as we were cooking, life is always beautiful, but the only way to truly appreciate it is to share and confide its beauty with others.


 

I don’t want to talk about this, but it’s important to document that today I had to hug Dani good-bye because she has to go back to Germany.  I’m crying inside.  I’m going to miss her so much.  She wasn’t supposed to leave.  Nobody is supposed to leave me considering I am the one visiting here in Argentina.  Fernanda isn’t supposed to leave me when she goes to Paris.  And Federico isn’t supposed to follow her there, leaving me here as well.  But, I’m taking things one day at a time, it just so happened that today was the last time I get to embrace Dani until I go visit her in Germany or she visits me in America or we meet up in another corner of the world, all of which are plausible options.