I made this promise to myself to have no guests in September. I was supposed to take this month for myself...and to be with Roberto before he left for London. Somehow like everything else in my life, it goes in 42 different directions. In the end, it all works out.
I had about 15 days alone in my apartment. Then Christine called. "Deby" she started, "I have a ticket I have to use. Can I please stay with you?" I thought about it for 10 seconds, and then said yes. Chris is from San Francisco, and sometimes Denver. She stayed with me in March. She has 12 times more energy than me and is probably 100 times more enthusiastic about tango. She cracks me up. She came a week later to stay.
Then I got an email from Paula. She used to play with Quinn Tango, a group on the East Coast. She had a week off from her job as a violinist from the National Symphony in DC. She sounded pretty cool and I figure, "Oh hell, why not?" There went the rest of my solitude.
It is funny. In California I lived in almost 4,000 square feet alone. The thought of a roomate sent me frothing at the mouth. Here in Buenos Aires I live in 1000 square feet, and I love having people here. I realized that I missed having people around me. Having these two women here has been so much fun.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Dany was here for lunch. He is Roberto's best friend. He told me that the 3 most important things in a porteño's life are "me, me, me" I mentioned to him that he was not that way. He laughed and told me he is from Cordoba, the three most important things in his life are "me, my family, me." He continued, "You have to understand, with an Argentine man, he always comes first. Always. I told him in the U.S. we call those kind of men selfish jerks. A different mentality.
"Roberto is a milonguero." Dany says to me. "In his life, besides himself, is his tango. Nothing else." Milongueros live for their tango. I once mentioned to a friend when you listen to these guys the tango is talked about as if it were a person. Living here now, I realize that to them, the tango is like another person. They live for their tango, that special dance, that certain song. I know that with Roberto, money holds no interest, neither do material possessions. He lives to dance. He loves to teach because he feels he gives people a piece of himself, a piece of what he loves, his tango.
I tell Dany I understand this, but Roberto abandoned me. Just because I cannot dance like before. I cannot accept this. Dany told me to have patience. Roberto has not abandoned me. I tell him, I am American, forget it. This whole idea of me first doesn't do much for me.
I am working very hard in my pilates. I share Mondays with Marcela Duran. What a surprise it was to come in and find her on the other pilates bed. She is preparing to move to Kentucky with Luis Bravo and their family. I give her a bad time about moving to Kentucky. She asks me if it is true people have sex with their brothers. I tell her no, with sheep. Or is that Arkansas? (Sorry all you people in Kentucky and Arkansas, you know us Californians...) They are going for the horses. I ask her if we will have "Marcela´s Tango Week" in Lexington. She tells me she doubts it, but if she does, Roberto and I can come to teach.
Sabrina tells me that in November I will be dancing better than before. I am making great improvements. I don't feel like it. I know I am, but it is so hard. When I started, I could not cross my legs. Now I can. I can actually balance on this balance board alone for 10 minutes. "Patience" she tells me. I am going to start going 3 times a week in October. I am crazy to improve faster.
I have my classes with Carina Moriyon. She is a trip. I did not realize that she and her ex-pareja were winners in the Campeonato in 2004. She also danced with Roberto several years ago in the Esquina de Troilo. Her father was a well known milonguero. I realized after several conversations with her and seeing his picture, I had danced with him. He was one of the gentle old guys that got me started when I first started coming here.
Carina is amazing. She is working on my technique. She is helping me to regain my balance and axis. I have never had classes like hers. They are intense but excellent. She plays tango electronica. She doesn't want me to concentrate on the music. She wants me to concentrate on my body.
These classes are hard for me. These are things that I could do easily before the accident. Now sometimes I feel it is impossible. I can now pivot on one foot. Something I could not do when we started. I feel like a big klutz. There are times I want to cry. What happened to my elegance? Carina does not accept this from me. She continues to push me. My posture is coming back. I am starting to carry myself as a dancer again.
We go to El Beso after my classes. I only dance 3 or so tandas. Not like the old me who danced almost every one. People are happy to see me. Many thought I moved back to the U.S. I have to relive the accident all over. One man says to me "Do you know Roberto Dentone? He was in an accident too." Small world...
When I dance with men who don't have their balance or axis, I am scared to death. I have to work hard to maintain mine. I can no longer maintain for two people. I dance the whole tanda scared I am going to fall. The men who can dance no longer ask me. Probably because I no longer look at them. I feel like a disaster.
Juan Carlos, a wonderful dancer takes me to dance. He knows I have been in an accident. He saw me on my crutches. He saw me in the wheel chair. I go into his embrace. I start to take a long step backward. In my mind, I am making my long elegant step and will move into my cintura. This doesn't happen. I don't know what this is, but it is not my step. Pain shoots through my waist. "Duele?" (pain) Juan Carlos asks me. I shake my head no. I want to push myself.
I move through the song. It is a strange experience. My mind and heart are making the steps. It is someone else's body dancing. It is not mine. I am horrified. Juan Carlos is kind. He tells me to be patient. I am numb. I shake my head. He dances all 4 songs. He thanks me and gives me a hug. I am miserable. I never want to dance again.
In pilates I tell this to Sabrina. She tells me to be patient. In November, she tells me once again that I will be dancing better than before. I do not believe this. I talk to Carina. She tells me the same. I tell her I can no longer dance. I tell her I do not want to go to the milongas any more. She does not accept this. "Negra," she tells me, "You have to dance."
I lose my cell phone. I am not sure where and how I did this. But I did. Roberto is calling all my friends. I am not returning his calls. I go to class at Carina's. She asks me if I talked to Roberto. I tell her no. I do not want to talk to him. She tells me that he wants to come to the class tonight. I tell her no. I don't want to see him.
It is awkward for her. My telenovela life. (Soap opera) She adores both of us, but does not want to be in the middle. In a way it is funny she works me over and Dany works Roberto over. Roberto calls. She insists I talk to him. I do. We argue. Imagine that... Finally I get it through his thick Argentine head that he is the one chasing me, that I am not the one chasing him, and that he is choking himself. It shuts him up. "You abandoned me" I tell him. "Because I cannot dance like before. How could you do that to me?" He doesn't answer. Finally he says, " We need to talk." We plan to meet on Thursday.
He comes over and goes for the mate. He puts sweetner in it. This is his bouquet of flowers. When we first took mate together I got a big lecture on drinking mate. It was like real Argentines don't use sugar. I learned to drink it amargo. (Without sugar) I am surprised by the sugar and comment on it. "You like it sweet." he says to me. A sarcastic comment wants to jump out, but I keep my mouth shut.
We talk about nothing. My injuries, my dance. His trip. Friends. Finally I say to him after an hour, do you want to talk to me? He looks down. "I am sorry." he says. I am shocked. I didn't know he knew these words. He comes to hug me. "I don't want to lose you. You drive me crazy." We talk. He tells me that in his life, it has always been his tango. Now it is different. We talk more. He says it killed him when I froze him out of my life.
I tell him how my friend Eduardo said that he should buy me a big bouquet of flowers and wait at the front door of my apartment. I told Eduardo the only flowers Roberto probably ever bought for a woman were for his mother when she died. Roberto looks at me stunned. "You really understand me." Yes," I tell him, "and I want flowers." He smiles. "OK, but only if you dance with me."