As I type this, I am staring at a pile of my things on my bed. Two suitcases sit open and almost full on the floor. And I have friend waiting for my arrival at my favorite club - only 4 blocks from my apartment.
I don't know how to say goodbye because I don't know if I ever will come back again.
When I left my parents, it was tearful, yes, but I knew that I would be returning in 5 and a half short months. And how short those months seem now that they have all passed...
Tonight I went to La Catedral de Tango for the last time and I kissed my instructors and my friends homestay mom goodbye for the last time. I had to thank them for all they had given to me. Because when I think on Argentina, of course I think about tango and all the time that I spent at my friend's house and all the time that I spent at La Catedral. And how excited my friends and I were when we mastered a new move - maybe not complex, but it was still new.
I sit here and I look at my Spanish dictionary. It's been so long since that was a vital part of my belongings, since I had to have it with me for constant reference. I am by no means fluent, but I have found that there are ways to talk around things, to try and describe them with the vocabulary that I do have, and if not that, then my hand gestures and body motions generally can do the trick.
This place. I spent 5 and a half months sleeping in this bed. Singing in that shower over there. Eating at that kitchen table. I took that same bus every day - cold, rainy, windy, sunny - to that University. I sat in boring classes, exciting classes, classes in which I thought the substitute teacher was cute and I put in 110% effort.
How did all these things just come to an end?
When did that happen?
How is it that tomorrow I will board a plane, with people I didn't know 6 months ago, who I now call friends?
14 hours of travel. And then I will be in my father's arms. I will pet my dog. It will be cold.
This will be over.
How does that happen?
How is it that at times it felt sooo long? Like when I was sick from my malaria pills, and all I could do was lay in bed, pray it would pass, and ask for my mom. During those days, all I wanted was to be at home.
Now, I want to be home again. I miss my family - talking to them through the phone isn't the same as seeing them, as sharing events with them personally instead of just recounting the days' activities, as being able to actually hug them and kiss them and tell them I love them.
But I don't want to go away from my home. This apartment. This neighborhood. This city. This country. This feels like home to me now. I'm starting to think that being adaptable isn't always a blessing. Right now, adaptability is a curse. Because I will leave this place and soon it will be just a distant memory of something that once was. And Durham, CT will be home again. And the University of South Carolina will be home again. Walking into an apartment to my best friend, Ashley, will be home again. Pulling into my driveway and seeing my mom or dad will be home again. Home will no longer be Pipa and her family, or my two wonderful roommates.
The path taken means as much as the destination.
At first I would have said that my destination was Buenos Aires. But now I know that my destination was more a sense of awareness; I'm aware of how much my family means to me, how much I love my friends - yet how easily it is to make new ones, especially in strange situations. I arrived at the feeling of being comfortable even when I am alone, more than halfway around the world from everything I had once known.
I may have not ended up being a true porteña, as was my original goal, but there is comfort here. There is a family; there are friends; there is a home. It's just strange that I have two sets of each, and they are one different continents. In a different culture. In a different language.
There are days that I have thought, if I could choose again, I wouldn't have picked Argentina. But there are days, like today, that I walked the street, went to tango, and just sat in a park, and I realized... I wouldn't trade these experiences for the world.
Gracias, Argentina, por todos los recuerdos. Voy a extrañarte - tus calles, tus pueblos, y tu gente. Tuve el tiempo de mi vida. No puedo imaginar un otro país con personas tan lindas, con los brazos tan abiertos, con aventuras tan grandes. Hoy, soy una persona diferente que la persona de seis meses atrás. Ella era ... dependiente, y ahora, soy independiente. Ahora, tengo ojos abiertos y más amor en mi corazón que nunca pensé posible. Pero ahora, yo sé, veo, vivo.
He llegado, he triunfado.