When I look at the featured image that accompanies this post I think about how happy I was. But that sort of happy when I didn’t really know how happy I was, you know what I mean?
I was 32 and on my own on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I remember how effusive I was then, much to my embarrassment now. It’s difficult to describe exactly what that exprience was like for me. I’ve maintained a mystery since those days not because I want to harbor any secrets. But because to put all of my experiences during that time into words would sully them. All of them. By speaking, I’d make it not important at all. And yet, it was so important. To me.
But why listen to what I have to say? Stephen King expressed it best when he wrote, “The most important things are hardest to say because words diminish them.”
What I lacked at the time was wisdom. Perhaps I had a bit of insight, I remember during that period people would tell me how insightful and thoughtful I was. Most of that had to do with how much time I was alone. During long walks with only your thoughts can lead a person to either insanity or in my case, serenity of a sort. I was young, and handsome, and care free. As you age, you’ll find, you buckle down, barreling towards retirement, less likely to be as free.
Argentina continues to be a magical place for me. It retains that magic, as I reflect on my time there. It’s enchanting. Though its air is not as beautiful as its name suggests, it is. It just is.
If one day you are fortunate to visit, you will find sun unlike anything you will have ever known previous. You will be enthralled at the sweaty faces of the shop keepers. You will witness rain and thunder-showers so mighty you will believe in God again. You will be filled with joy at the sight of the jacaranda trees that line each street, of the fruit stands on every corner and the cafes in every nook. You will be brought to happy sorrow by the warmth of the Argentine, at how his heart swells with pride when he asks, “How do you like Argentina,” and you reply, “I like it very much.” Oh how the smile extends to each lobe.
One evening, in March of 2012 I had dinner at the home of a couple, perhaps a decade older than I. There apartment in the barrio of Palermo, popular amongst tourists, was an antique lover’s dream, and they fed me plentifully, with an endless supply of wine, for it must have been, as my glass was never empty. I often remember that night, and how at peace I was.
When my heart returns to that place, an apartment so bright it made the impossible seem possible, I am brought low, not because I am sad, not because I am disheartened, but because I miss it so. The elation at waking each morning after a restful sleep is a memory I grasp for always. I paraphrase Isak Dinisen when I write, “If I know a song of Argentina, does Argentina know a song of me?”
I wrote a book of short stories which I hope to have published soon. In it, I speak often about my love of Buenos Aires, well, to be fair, of all Argentina, for I’ve seen so much of it now.
My only goal is that I make her glad.