Though I held it together pretty well when my sister left Buenos Aires to head back to the states, upon returning back to my house I plopped on my bed and covered my face with my hands as I was inundated with emotion–fear, loneliness, disbelief.
“What am I going to do now?,” I thought. “Where will I go? Who will I talk to? Why did I do this?”
What is hard for me to accept is that I may not be as brave as I thought I was. Months ago, the mere idea of traveling alone to a foreign place, living there and being that girl who can meander through quaint neighborhoods all alone and be happy was thrilling to me.
“I could totally do that,” I thought. “How hard could it be?”
But that moment on my bed, where I was staring helplessly at the ceiling for an hour, unable to reach family or friends since the electricity in my house was out (for almost 3 days…), really hit me hard. This was going to be a lot harder than I expected.
I think I always knew this. At least sort of. Some of the motivation behind embarking on such a trip was to challenge myself; I wanted to prove to myself that I can be a f r a i d, w o r r i e d, l o s t while being alone and still be okay. I wanted to push myself far outside of my comfort zone in order to grow. And I still want these things.
Turns out bravery is a big part of it.
Also, though, seizing every opportunity you can that comes your way. I’ve been lucky to gain such a wonderful, warm new friend in Buenos Aires–Caro, the woman who’s house I am staying in.
Two days ago she invited me to have dinner with her and some friends at her boyfriend’s apartment. It was the same day my sister left and I was feeling extra lonely and didn’t feel like being around people. But, I knew I couldn’t afford to wallow in self-pity and fear, and this looked like a great opportunity to bring me back into the light.
The night began around 8:00pm. We cooked together, laughed a lot, discussed our favorite music (in both English and Spanish) and drank wine until 4:00am. The night ended with me falling asleep with a stupid grin on my face, so happy to have laughed and eaten a delicious meal with new friends. I felt rejuvenated, with a new-found hope that maybe this wouldn’t be as hard as I was afraid it was going to be.
The next morning I awoke feeling sure about one thing: I must take every opportunity I can to meet people, experience new things, and most importantly to perfect my Spanish in order to make this city feel more like my city, a place where I can belong.
And while that seems obvious, at least to me it does, sometimes you don’t fully realize it until you’re forced to. It’s so easy to take refuge in your room, away from the challenges of having to speak another language and interact with strangers.
But now that I’ve had a few days of solitude to put my feelers out and attempt to “put myself out there” more, I’m starting to see what all the fuss about Buenos Aires is after all. Did you know that the streets in Palermo lined with gorgeous trees that form a canopy over the street are called arboleros? Or that every Thursday night there’s a live cumbia band that plays in a house near mine?
Really, Buenos Aires is one of the most interesting, most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And all it took for me to realize this was a little bravery.