Another year is going by, seemingly quickly but yet filled with events that weren’t quite expected. This New Year’s eve was spent here in Buenos Aires, my second time here since 2003/2004 New Year’s. I vaguely remembered that there were lots of local fireworks in the neighborhood, unlike the organized fireworks in the US or the solemn countdown in Japan. Well, just like the other celebrations that I had experienced here for the soccer world cup semi-final and finals celebration or the 25 de Mayo celebration, you’d think you’re in some kind of war zone or ad mist a riot. Before 00:00 comes around, the anxious Argentineans started throwing their fireworks into the street with loud snapping and booming. After 00:00, the skies were filled with fireworks and it sounded just like a riot. Supposedly, the fireworks aren’t cheap, but they go up for at least half hour, probably close to an hour all over the place. The view from the higher apartment balcony was great. No one needs licenses to use these and kids can even buy them as well, quite a difference from the US where they are illegal. I found it amusing and yet it was refreshing to see the liberty that people were having to celebrate the New Year.
Personally, 2013 was a year of many changes, with lots of goodbyes and hellos. The year started with the news of a loss of a dear friend and without time to digest this, my temporary move to Buenos Aires. A new life, in a new country, with a new language, with new activities, and new friends. For some time what seemed like a temporary fairy tale world gradually became my reality. When May came around, I made the decision to participate in the Tango World Championships that is held in August every year in Buenos Aires. At this point, there was no time to stop and think, nor eat and sleep, my days were stuffed with lessons and rehearsals to get prepared for the competition. The results were not quite where I wanted them to be, but nonetheless it was an extraordinary experience given the fact that I was still getting used to the new lifestyle here. In the month of September, I was finally de-numbing myself from the intense 3 months that I had. I decided that I would like to continue my life here in Buenos Aires.
Why? Well, a number of factors but mainly because it just felt right, which was my intuition talking to me. I had a life in Los Angeles that was really perfect, even when I think of it now, it still seems like a glittery, sparkly, dream like life that I always wanted. I lived in a cozy little guest house in Santa Monica, less than 5 minutes from the beach. I had my hybrid car that I paid off and drove around comfortably with my tons of tango shoes in the trunk. I had access to all the organic markets in town, cooked organic, went to yoga classes, did acro yoga most of the weekends on the beach, and had a modest but sustaining lifestyle as a tango teacher/organizer/dancer. I have amazing friends that I could meet up with and there’s always interesting things going on in LA. What else can one ask for? It was perfect and almost too perfect.
Perhaps it was “being vulnerable” or “bigger challenges” or “taking a chance towards my dreams” or “gaining another perspective in life”, but all in all, it just felt right. It felt right for now, it could change in the future, but I think I should be able to deal with that then. The challenge in this process was “letting go”. In September, I went back to Los Angeles to take care of things, mainly to sell all my belongings, empty out my storage, and to bid farewell to my car “Pepita” and my dear friends. It was heart shattering to sell my precious things that I had put so much thought and work to obtain in my life or that contained memories of a certain period of my life, for a mere couple of bucks at the garage sale, to people who could care less of the sentimental value that it had. The shipping situation to Argentina is not the best, so I had to give up on that idea. Basically, I had to narrow it down to some suitcases, maybe a little bit more that I can ask some friends to hold on to until I can come and get them. For many items I had to stop and think and think and think… to figure out whether I had any other way to hold onto them, and in the end having to close my eyes and chuck them into my “sell” pile. I shed tears after the first day of the garage sale. I was surprised to find out that I was so attached to my material “things”, especially since I’ve traveled for long periods of times and wouldn’t even think of them. It hurt even more when I knew that some of these things didn’t exist here in Buenos Aires, or it would cost some money again to collect all these items, or some items I wouldn’t be able to find again. Other things like family dish-ware that I had no idea what their value was until after the garage sale when my mom told me that some were items gifted to my grandfather by the Japanese ceramic national treasure. Whoops… The truth is, I still think about these items even now. My room in Santa Monica with all my precious “things” is ingrained in my memory, I can still feel myself living my life there breathing the ocean air and bathing the lovely sunlight. I do miss Los Angeles and I do miss everyone there.
Yet, I have no regrets on my decision because “it felt right”. I am enjoying the new lifestyle where things are a bit rough around the edges, things are not as convenient, and future planning doesn’t really make sense. “Productivity”?… eh, forget about it! Here, it may seem like a country where people care only about themselves but it rather is quite the contrary. Yes, you do need to protect yourself and your own belongings and yes, you do need to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of. But, if a senior citizen, an injured, a disabled, a pregnant woman, or a mom with a child steps onto public transportation, you’re sure to see a bunch of people offering them seats. When a child is lost on the beach, the kid rides a shoulder of an adult as the public starts clapping until the parent is located. Friend and family ties are strong and people seem to be very present with each other. If they had 50 pesos remaining in their wallet until their next pay, they’d still rather spend that 50 pesos to go out and have a drink with friends than to go home and save it for something. Of course, this is linked with the “unproductive”ness in ways, but then, I am reminded that life is not just about success, money, and possessions. Here, it’s difficult to be “on top” of things, and it’s okay to be “vulnerable”, you learn to be patient and to let go. You understand that it’s so much nicer to spend time with someone without having to run off to the next appointment. You realize that you can hang out with people “just because”, instead of having to have a reason to get together. I’m content with the new perspective that my new life is offering me right now, and I’m looking forward to how this will expand.
I can’t be thankful enough that I have been brought up in two countries that allow us the option to choose. This is a powerful thing. We have the opportunity, liberty, and rights to make choices, and then the education, information and the resources to do so. Not everyone in the world are with these privileged environments. The most I can do is to take advantage of this and live my days with intent and curiosity for life.
I’m wishing you all a splendid 2015, where many moments of it will be fulfilling and inspiring. With uplifting moments to share and expand with your loved ones, and those moments that are not so, to know with confidence that they will pass to take you to a new plateau. With encountering new connections and friends and treasuring the old ones. Thank you for being part of my 2014 and I look forward to sharing the new year with you all!