South America is like a lover that I have been able to get close to in certain ways, but not in others. This morning I landed in Quito, Ecuador and while on the plane I thought about what I wanted to do this coming year. I like to think on planes because the loud noises in the cabin after the aircraft turns on help me find my own inner voice. Maybe I just get a sense of comfort from the fact that everything around me is not still. When everything is still around me I feel like my mind is a stage and that is a scary thing—just me and my mind and everything ringing crystal clear. The noise in the cabin feels like I am back in the womb and people’s voices are muddled, I feel constantly lulled to sleep, and my own thinking is rather foggy, but what is pertinent at the moment floats to the surface with ease.
And this particular time while in flight I thought about my writing and that I would like to start off this year by doing more writing. So here goes, I commit the month of January to writing a post every day. I will leave perfection by the wayside and I will dive into the art of imperfect writing, incomplete thoughts, and meandering prose. I am delighted to have you accompany me on the way.
My first time back to South America after having moved when I was twelve was in 2004—eight long years later. I went to Argentina for a month to visit, my dad came along. And I cried at Christmas when we had a feast with all of our old friends and adopted family members, with carne asada, empanadas, ensalada rusa—all my favorite foods, but I wasn’t close to all my people at once and therefore I wasn’t completely happy. And although my stomach was full, I felt empty knowing that I would always have this feeling in my gut. The feeling that you have arrived yet you are departed, that you are complete but something is missing, that you know what love is nevertheless you are still searching.
And then I kept coming back to the south to fill the void. A year later I decided to do a semester of study abroad in Quito, Ecuador. The first time far away from my family. I explored the jungle, the Galápagos, the beaches, and the mountains and I fell in love again with my South American patria.
The following summer I did my teaching practicum in Argentina. Living in the land just north of the Patagonia where a coat of red dust perpetually tinted my shoes an ocher color as I walked the dirt streets. Even when I arrived back home to my apartment all my belongings had a film of dust as it settled daily in my hogar, dulce hogar, that I shared with an Argentine woman who graciously took me in.
After graduate school my heart was thirsty for the love that I have only known in the southern part of the western hemisphere. So, I came back to the land to work the soil instead of just watching it collect on my shoes. I farmed for a short while and I felt the Patagonian dirt in my hands and I knew that it was something sacred. The feeling you get from working the land as a novice apprentice is one of awe. I felt like a simpleton in terms of anything agriculture related and I tried to soak it all in even though my time was limited.
And now, three years later, I am back once more, reunited with my lover and taking it all in, sensing one thing at a time.