Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Second Spring

It's a quiet Sunday,
and I barricade myself indoors.
As a steady rain soaks the streets
all the laundry still hangs outside.
I listen to it tap the tin roof I sit under,
and I hear my thoughts echo off the walls.
My friends dance in my mind,
and a million miles ripple between us.
This rain has fallen on me before,
but never amidst such a dense forest of concrete giants.
My lungs have inhaled this wet spring air before,
but never in a South Atlantic September.
This whole year seems made up.
Like I've stepped into a Salvador Dali painting,
and I'm trying to make sense of that melting clock.
My closet is perpetually a suitcase,
and the only ones who seem to recognize me are
the woman I wake up next to,
my brown leather boots,
and the unshaven crazy-looking guy in the mirror.
I stare at him and he smiles back.
I ask the crazy guy why he's smiling?
His reply-
The clock's not melted,
the canvas is blank,
and all the answer's are in your shadow.
And for a few moments,
the echo stops.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tearing Down Walls

For the first time in my life I am a property owner. Last week Annie and I closed escrow on an apartment on the top floor of a building in a barrio of Buenos Aires known as Oncé. It's a raw space, absent of a kitchen, shower, or even hot water, but what it does have is potential, and in it we see something that will be our own.

Today, marked Day 1 of the remodel. What does that mean exactly? It means myself and our friend Mauricio, who flew in from Tijuana, Mexico to help us for the next few months, got to smash down walls with a sledgehammer. Unlike in the States, because of fire codes here, it's illegal to build the basic structure of a building or home with wood, so even interior walls are made of brick and concrete as opposed to 2x4's and drywall. Consequently our demo, and the debris that follows, is fairly substantial.

Mauricio and I make an interesting crew. He was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and I was born in Wisconsin. I grew up landlocked by corn and he was surrounded by desert and ocean. While he speaks fairly good English, his first language is Spanish. I on the other hand am just beginning to grasp the basics of Spanish. The overlap for the two of our lives originates in San Diego. I lived there for the last 5 and half years, and he crossed the border everyday to work construction there, sometimes for Annie. Because of his friendship with Annie, the quality work he's done for her and his ability to speak Spanish, he was the perfect fit to help us get our home and studio remodeled here in Argentina. For Mauricio it was an opportunity. These days it's not easy for him to cross the Mexican border, and with the mortgage crisis in the States the construction industry has slowed down dramatically. Even though he would be leaving his wife and children for three months, it meant three months of guaranteed income he could send back to them, not to mention the chance to see a part of the world he might not otherwise be able to see.

While the life paths for the two of us have been very different, they converge now here for the next few months in South America, in one of the largest cities in the world. We are each teaching the other what we can, while building a home and eventually an art/yoga studio along the way. Sure in this first week we have sometimes struggled to understand what the other is saying, but the majority of our conversations end in laughs so I think we'll be alright. I feel fortunate to have him here.

Currently Reading:
The Lion and the Unicorn

by George Orwell

The New York Times

Currently Listening To:

On The Real with Chuck D

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Escaping The City

We've officially been here two months now. Two incredibly fast months filled with an intensity that I have never before been witness too. A great deal of energy is required to start a business or buy a home even when you're in a place you've known all your life, but when you do both of those things at the same time, and do them in an entirely different country, the patience and energy required is even greater.

Within the first week of our arrival here a friend of ours told us to get out of the city every 4 or 5 weeks. He warned us to be careful because the city can wear you out. His advice, as I imagine it would in any big city, held a great deal of truth. Buenos Aires moves fast, and to survive you have to move fast within it.

Our first chance to escape the city came a week ago. We boarded a ferry and took a one hour trip across the Rio de la Plata to Uruguay. There in a small town named Colonia, on the other side of the river, we found relief from the noise and fast paced energy of the city.

As we sat on the grass in the sun, near the river's rocky shore, my thoughts were able to drift into the peace of the moment. No car horns. No squealing bus breaks. No phone. No computer. Just the sound of the waves. The rich brown water of this mighty river conjured up images of the Mississippi. And the warmth of the dry sun was reminiscent of a San Diego spring. There wasn't much going on there, but that is exactly why I was so fond of this small river town in the Southern Hemisphere.

One of the most interesting parts of the trip for me came on our ferry ride back to Buenos Aires. As we pulled into the port, returning from our first excursion out of the city, I had a feeling come over me that we were coming home. Home - it's such an interesting word when you think about it. It is often easy to call a place home, but it's entirely different to feel like a place is home, and for the first real time without forcing it, that's how I felt about the city. For the first time, I was coming home.