Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Friends, New Communities...

Coming back to Buenos Aires has been a bit of a polarizing adjustment. Physically the city is very familiar for me. I’ve been all over it by foot, squished into its buses, and have been intimately intermixed into the grit of it’s underground.

In some ways it feels like a second home, a second or perhaps third character, life and existence that I’ve tucked away thousands of miles from the US to save for wintry days. Often I feel like I’m returning to unfinished business, to a mission that I just didn’t have the time or tools to complete yet.

I’ve got a host of really awesome friends here, my favorite restaurants, and community organizations that I feel committed too.

But in many ways, my return to Buenos Aires has been yet another quick and startling transition that my brain and heart has yet to wrap itself around. I’m no longer a study abroad student running around with a naïve mission to find the long lost black people. I’m no longer just limping by with my Spanish, and in many ways the universe has truly provided me with everything that I need to make ANYTHING happen during my time here.

I have money, equipment, opportunities overflowing, communities that have a clear plan and mission, and yet I’ve been going around in circles like a puppy trying to figure out where and how to start. Literally, within two weeks of arriving in Buenos Aires, all of the desires I’ve had about this place have manifested themselves. An opportunity to sing? Check. An opportunity to photograph? Check. A job teaching yoga? Check? A productive community organization to contribute to? Check?

This has been one of these times where the universe has really showed me that it is possible to do ANYTHING that I want here, I just have to be patient and calculated about my actions—and FOCUS.

These times when things all fall together, and there are about 14 thousand things that I could do, I start to tend toward workaholism. If I’m not working, I feel uncomfortable, and when I am working I feel that I need to be working harder. It’s a nagging feeling that brings guilt instead of relaxation.

These are tendencies that I’ve definitely picked up from Harvard, and I find them to be more and more common among other high achieving black women. It seems that we are constantly racing against the clock, fighting against these our societal images to prove ourselves, and to out-do ourselves….before it’s too late?

I’ve found that commonly, we’ve seen so many of our fellow sisters in the depths of destruction that we are stuck in a never ending struggle to not waste time, to not to waste what we’ve been given. We’ve been warned by mothers not to follow in their paths. We’ve been told by our community how much potential we have. We’ve been told by 18 different people, the different truth about 18 different paths that we should take. We’re a generation with more choice and opportunity in some ways than ever. We don’t have to get married to support ourselves (and frankly we don’t get married much at all). Our career choices are not as strictly delineated by our gender or the color of our skin. Even having babies doesn’t confine us to the domestic realm anymore. And it’s become more and more common that our attachment to our career status acts as our man, family, and child (or so says all of the articles coming out lately that high achieving black women never get married….)

Without diving into Often times in wanting to live up to all of the expectations that we have of what we COULD do we end up overworking ourselves, and undervaluing our relationships.

It sounds counterintuitive that during a year that I would be without job, hours, or responsibilities that I would end up feeling so pressured and busy.

I am thankful that I’ve got such awesome friends here to make me take time out of my busy schedule to take care of what’s more important. And what is that? Peacefulness, maintaining balance, leaving a space better than you’ve found it—and as it’s something that I’ve definitely neglected in my past.

Luckily, I’ve found a roommate here who has taught me a lot about maintaining positive energy and relations in the house…and about taking breaks to do these things.

She makes sure that I teach her yoga during the week, she makes sure that I sit my ass down to watch a movie, or listen to a song, or to sing a song with her, she teaches me about Argentine Futbol, and takes great pride in joy in explaining my Spanish mistakes while teaching me new slang.

Lucky for her, lately my way of showing my appreciation (and moreso my procrastination method) has been cooking. I’ve been cooking all sorts of new and interesting things that most Argentines may have never seen in the kitchen. Arroz con frijoles, plátanos, salsa, guacamole, thai-pinneaple rice, crazy salads, new sauces and salad dressings, baked chicken, sweet potatoes…

To welcome me into the house and to say good-bye to a good friend we even had an incredible process of learning how to make EMPANADAS TUCHUMANAS, which of course, according to every Tucumana that lives in my house: THE BEST EMPANADAS IN THE WORLD. Actually, I hear that Tucumanas INVENTED Empanadas.

I have to admit, they were pretty damn good. Baked, Fried, Burnt, Hot, or Cold. I definitely ate to one stop past itus all the way into having to literally lay out on my bed for a while to regain my ability to talk and walk. (Sad, but true).

They were even better having gone through the entire process of cooking then with Emi…including staying up until four am the night before just peeling off strips of meat…and even better still beside the heaping piles of homemade guacamole that I made.

Sometimes there is nothing better than indulging in some gluttony and wine with new friends…oh and of course futbol. ..



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