I am sitting in SFO waiting for my flight to Seattle. It has been a learning experience for me to come back to the Bay Area. Bitter sweet. It is the Bay Area I remember, it is not the Bay Area I lived in. My friend Greg told me it is because I found something better. Maybe. Probably.
My life is so different now. I have no car in Buenos Aires nor any desire to own one. I walk out my door and I either walk, take the bus, subte, or on those rare occasions, a taxi. Here it was absolutely necessary I have a car. I felt like I was held hostage by those 4 wheels and I didn't like it at all. At first it was fun to drive. The it became a chore. I wanted to just go places and not be tied down by freeways, parking lots, and crazy drivers.
One day when I went to the gym, I found myself circling to find a spot as close as possible. Me, who walks 40 blocks home from Pelligrini. When I realized what I was doing, I parked in the first spot I found, 3 blocks away. Old habits come back.
People have no choice but to go to the gym here. I feel like a slug. I am used to walking, climbing stairs up and down to the subte. Here you get into the car and you go. I don't like it. Americans are not overweight just because of all the disgusting processed foods, they are overweight because they are sedentary. They do not move.
On Saturday was Heather and John's wedding. It was beautiful. I never cry at weddings. I cried at this one. Heather planned everything herself. John told her she could do whatever she wanted as long as they married at Grace Cathedral. The largest and most beautiful cathedral in San Francisco.
It was a small wedding. Friends and family. I got there early. I convinced the church lady to let me in to see Heather, telling her I was from Argentina, with heavily accented English. Sometimes that happens now. Argentina always brings connotations of sultry, passionate, images; tango, wine, and gauchos. She gushed when I told her, and told me of her own trip to Argentina. She was a very nice lady. I hope she comes to visit me. She guided me to Heather.
A shocker to walk in the door and see my old friend. Dressing as a bride. The girl who said she would never get married. Never is a strong word. Her mom is waiting for the baby. “Is she pregnant?” I asked. Mom said no, but she figures the marriage was a shocker, and she figures Heather will shock us again with kids.
I think so too. John is a lovely man. Handsome, intelligent, charming. Most of all, he truly loves Heather. He has a wonderful family. How could you not cry at this wedding? Some people do meet their media naranja.
On Sunday my friend Auntie Shirley Cha Cha Cha donated her house for a party for me. She and my friends Pelayo and Saychiyo were amazing. I stayed with Pelayo and Saychiyo. The 3 of them have been taking such good care of me. I think of them as a trio, Shirley, Pelayo, and Saychiyo. The 3 of them cooked up a storm. I invited my friends, and some were people that had stayed with me in Buenos Aires, new friends, but people I consider my friends.
The people that came were wonderful. I was overjoyed to see them again. Life is simply amazing how we touch each other's hearts and we never seem to let go. I had not seen some of these people for 5 years or so, and we could pick up like it was yesterday.
I was happy to see Patrick, Monica, and Silvia. These were people who stayed with me in Buenos Aires. The great part of what I do in renting my rooms is that I meet some really wonderful people. The sad part is that I never know if I will ever see them again.
I cannot express how emotional it was for me to have all these people I care for so much in one room. All who came out of their lives to see me. You might be reading this and think that I am strange to think this way, especially after not being in the Bay Area since January 2006. The truth is I also received a difficult lesson when I came back.
I wanted to have this party because I thought I had so many friends. I thought it would be easier to give everyone one day to see me. I did not have enough time to see everyone individually. I was amazed at how many people told me that I should have had it on a different day. Excuse me? It was the only weekend I was there. Others said they were coming and that was the last I heard from them. Those were people I thought were good friends. When I tried to double up lunches or dinners, I was informed they did not want to “share” their time with me in a nasty tone of voice. I guess it was better not to see me at all.
I was told that I could not expect people to re-arrange their schedules around me. To all of them I said “See you in another 5 years.” Not. Are people that selfish? I do not live my life that way. I am so glad I don't live here anymore. My friends in Buenos Aires get mad if I don't come to their asados. They worry when they don't hear from me for a couple of days. I forgot what life was really like here. Another part of the fantasy shot to hell.
I spent my last 3 days hanging out. I went to a milonga. I saw and danced with Pampa Cortez my old friend. A dream to dance with. Not Roberto. But still very nice. El Attorante (Brande) is still the best. I am sad to see people in the milongas seem to segregate themselves so much. I am sad to see teachers teaching Argentine tango to non-tango music. Too much teaching of steps and not enough about movements. My opinion.
I met my friend Andrew for dinner. I know him from Buenos Aires. He is Malaysian. At one time he thought he might settle in Buenos Aires, but decided not to. We have kept in touch. He is a great guy, very intelligent, and always into something new. He is trying to lure me back into IT with an interesting project. NO, NO, NO!
The dinner was great. It was Vietnamese food. We ate at the Sunflower. The food was fantastic. I also realized that as much as I thought I missed food, I really didn't. I have become used to my Argentine diet. I guess I have assimilated.
Wednesday was my best lunch. I saw Greg, the technician that used to work for me. We met at Taqueria San Jose in the Fruitvale. I was shocked at how empty the streets were at lunch time. I almost thought the restaurant was closed. A sign of the times. The streets used to be teeming with people. The lady who owned the place remembered me. She wanted to know where I had been.
We chatted about the economy. She asked if it was better in Argentina. I told her about our inflation. I told her I thought the lifestyle was much better than here. She completely understood what I was talking about.
I had a super chicke burrito with everything. It was HUGE. I had hot peppers. I drank 2 cups of horchata. I ATE EVERYTHING!!! I was in heaven. My best meal ever. Greg and I tweaked out. We talked about Linux, routers, and servers. It was great. I love to talk about that stuff. For 2 hours we talked about all the nerd stuff. I learned sooo much. I talked to him about Buenos Aires, and my life. I told him he should come visit. I think he would like it there. Well maybe. Not everyone does.
They say that California is bankrupt. I can feel the sadness. There is no longer a lightheartedness to life there. Or maybe in was all in my head. People are angry. They are scared. They want someone to be responsible for the mess they are in. That has not changed.
Now I am here. Waiting to go to Seattle. I have known Jeff and Marylynn for 25 years. Their neighbor Dave stayed with me in Buenos Aires. My two suitcases are so full, of what I don't know. I don't remember buying so much much.
They say you can never go back home. Maybe for a visit. But not to live. My home is in Buenos Aires. Not in California. Soy medio Portena. No mas una chica Californiana.