Friday, August 1, 2008

Harmony, Dissonance & Frosted Flakes

For this first month and a half in Buenos Aires we are staying in a 3rd floor lofted apartment located in a more Bohemian part of the city. Living one floor above us is a professional opera singer, and most afternoons she warms up by practicing the piano. Her ivory key marches are followed by the most beautiful harmonic vocal scales. Even though her sounds are muffled immensely by the concrete that separates us, what does resonate through brings a calm abinding to this small loft we call home. In contrast, the city streets below carry traffic and noise that is less than calming. The roar of diesel buses and the sounds of daily late night trash collectors permeate dissonantly through our windows. It is these two things that helped to bring me to the words harmony and dissonance.

As we persevere through the first few weeks of acclimating to a entirely new culture South of the equator, those two words stand rich with meaning. They will represent my triumphs and my failures. My understanding and my ignorance. The reciprocity of life.

In these early weeks of living here though it is the things that are dissonant relative to where I came from that stand out in my mind more often than not. Examples include: I can't believe the extraordinary amount of mullet haircuts I've scene down here, including one that I thought only to exist in the mythical world of hobbits and unicorns - the dredlock mullet. It will be years I think before I get used to winter being in the middle of July. I have forsaken Google Maps for a paper map of the city that I've used so often it's falling apart at the creases. They have boxes of cereal with Tony the Tiger on them, and while the contents seem to be exactly the same, they're called Zucaritas. Eggs are not refrigerated in grocery stores and the milk we buy comes in bags. Restaurants don't open for dinner until 9pm.

I list these things not as complaints or as things that I wish were different, but rather as things that are out of harmony from what I've known to be norm for so long. And I remind myself that normal is a word that as my years go by I become less and less fond of.

With each passing day, slow but sure, harmony is seeping its way in. Just like our shower here that drains onto the bathroom floor every time we use it, I know over the course of time these things will all become increasingly more and more transparent to my mind's eye. My first few showers here were followed by a 'what the f@#k?' in reference to the draining water. Now the cleanup has already become a part of daily life that I give little or no thought to. I imagine that to be the same for the Zucaritas, the bagged milk and all the much deeper cultural differences we find ourselves walking amidst here. I will say this though - if a mullet finds its way to my head I guarantee some part of me has given up.

Currently Reading:
The Pearl
by John Steinbeck

Currently Listening To:
Into the Wild Sountrack
Eddie Vedder

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