Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Two Months Later
Nick and I have now been home for a little over two months. At times it feels like Argentina was years ago, and at times it feels like we are FOB (Fresh Off the Boat). Surprisingly, the transition back home was relatively seamless. In other words, no culture shock to speak of. After all, it's home.
It feels really good to be home. To feel comfortable in Washington, DC, the city we have both come to love so much and come to think of as our home together--to navigate its streets, metros, neighborhoods, and buses without thinking twice--feels like a luxury. And to be surrounded by loved ones...This is something that I am still reveling in daily, because in reality, life on the road and in a foreign country is often plagued with spells of loneliness. So, to suddenly be in the thick of friends and family is revitalizing and wonderful.
It's funny how a year in Argentina changed us, made us less worried about, well, everything. I feel in so many ways that we are a bit slower, calmer in our ways, as if we are not afraid of what we are missing. We are struggling to find full-time jobs (I am temping now and Nick is interviewing like a mad-man), and while this is a bit frightening and a tad stressful, after our employment debacles in Argentina, we are confident that the right thing will reveal itself at the right time. (Being unemployed in the cozy confines of one's parents' house is infinitely different than being unemployed in a house that's falling apart in a neighborhood that you're not quite sure about that sits a sweltering hour-long bus ride from any job opportunities--that's for sure!) So, we're calmer now, and more appreciative of time spent with those we love, soaking up as much of it as we can.
But, we think of Argentina everyday in so many ways. As irreplaceable and as constant as home is, traveling makes you forever cognizant of how much is out there, how much there is to learn (sort of like how I feel about books--so MANY and not enough time to read them ALL!). I suppose traveling instills in you the oxymoronic itch to learn lEaRn LEARN coupled with the peaceful calm in knowing that home is truly where the heart is...
So while we feel at peace and deeply grateful to be reunited with those we love so much, we miss so much of our Argentine lives. We still try and shop at farmers' markets and support local food initiatives, although financial realities and time constraints lead us to Giant and Safeway more often than not. (We dearly miss the corner fruit and vegetable markets dotting nearly every street!) And because wine is no longer $2 a bottle, we've had to put the cork on that habit, so to speak. And, of course, we miss paying 6 pesos for a kilo of delicious, free range, juicy carne.
We miss these little things, but we also miss the over-arching themes that enveloped us in Argentina. We miss the sense of adventure and the sense of the exotic that followed our every move. We miss being able to hop on a bus on a whim and go see Che Gueverra's birthplace, or world-famous waterfalls, or the snowy Andean caps. We miss the freedom and the constant wonder at the world that followed us like a shadow wherever we went.
So it's funny...We're back, and we couldn't be happier to be back. But we feel that Argentina changed us deeply, and irreversibly unleashed a deep hunger for adventure. As I type, Nick is looking at graduate schools with potential summer study abroad programs, and we still hover around the travel guide section at the library more often than not...
However, the best gift from Argentina is our ensuing decision to get married. We decided on our very last day in Argentina, as we sat in a Mendozan plaza, to leave the country recognizing the bond that had come from our South American year. So now I wear a hundred peso ring on my finger (that is invaluable sentimentally) and we are greeting this new chapter in our lives preparing to be husband & wife, prepared to be partners that commit ourselves and support one another through our individual and paired callings, calling upon the lessons we first learned in Argentina. So, here's to you, Argentina. Thanks for everything.
PS: The beautiful painting at the top of the post is done by the beautiful Laura Eppinger