When I started seriously traveling one of the first places that I visited was Buenos Aires, Argentina. The only reason why I chose to go was because of an incredible deal my friend had found on a package there and I had yet to venture into South America. Little did I know that not only would it mark the beginning of a love affair with a gorgeous man, but also a gorgeous city. Thus, here is an ode to my beloved city that I will be getting married in on my ninth visit this May:
Carlos Fuentes wrote that, “May is the ideal month to talk, to make oneself heard, to seduce, and be seduced in Buenos Aires.” And although as I write this now it is almost November, looking at the city with the knowledge of departure, gazing through the window that is soon to be memory, I can see the subtle spell the streets of Buenos Aires have cast over me time after time. I feel her pull and taste her seduction.
Buenos Aires is the long-haired waiter with the muscular arms dressed in his black apron standing behind the espresso bar staring at you, waiting for the moment when you meet his eyes, the gaze is intensified not broken. Buenos Aires is the small worn patch of grass between the palm tree and the broken lamp post where the winning goal in the world cup is scored daily by a child imitating Maradona. Buenos Aires is the warmth of Malbec enjoyed with the smoothness of tango. Buenos Aires is a city of tin, cardboard, wood, and dogs shadowed by a city of stone facade, fur coats, and leather boots; separated by train tracks. Buenos Aires is the question to an answer, working backwards to piece together the city that once was trying hard not to ignore the city it shall be.
The city that is Buenos Aires is a puzzle, a patchwork quilt of which I am now a piece. As I sit by the window of my hotel room in Puerto Madero, I look out to the balconies of other buildings, broken occasionally by browning sycamore tree leaves unwilling to let go from their branches, still dancing in the wind. I realize that I am part of a horizon that makes me feel small, isolated, and yet simultaneously a part of something much greater than myself. I am part of the city as I breathe in the chilled air, absorb the morning sun, listen to the buses pass three stories below, squealing their rusted brakes to come to a stop at the café on the corner where people sit reading the news, sipping café con leche and eating lightly sweetened medialunas. Near the café a fresh produce and meat store helps a woman choose the perfect mandarinas and cut of beef for her dinner tonight. A street away an old couple wash and fold the clothing of others who have entrusted their most intimate apparel to them.
This is the collage of Buenos Aires that I have come to know. This is the city that has enveloped me, held me, and let me move through her barrios as one of her own. This is the city I will remember and return to over and over again.