Baby la vida un ciclo: Love, Travel, and being trite

(yes, the title of this post is stolen from “Te boté” – the best, if a bit too long, Latin pop breakup song this summer…i don’t only listen to sad songstresses shockingly, but pardon my nostalgia)

Writing can be so freeing when it’s already half-written. In a way, that describes all my projects, doesn’t it? I like to pick at and unravel the near past or semi-distant past and piece them together in an unsavory but not unrealistic version of the future so that I can at least say I saw that fearful potential state coming. Tonight I felt that way about coming home to a half-written journal entry. What new things could I say? What could I say at all about life right now as opposed to life in general when I am usually drawn to more piecemeal detail? I have more time, I have more time and space for sure. Fortunately, there are threads to pick up.

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My internet is slow, and I forgot my pencil case at work, so thank god I found this pen to write a draft at the bottom of my backpack. I love those little coincidences and nudges. Aren’t they what gets us by? This is absurd but the idea of taking a hot shower again seems like it could be what may get me by right now, and I felt an anxious, literal pang thinking about it when my shower gave my hand an electrical shock as I turned the dials that look like light switches, which I’ve never seen anywhere else to make it hotter. That being said, I was proud of myself for using a pair of Cal sweatpants (which bear a literal ass hole because I’ve undone the seams by pulling threads) as a shower mat so that the water wouldn’t flood into my room again.

I guess this extension of a project is a real world experiment, a real world exercise in being in the partial place where I 2/3rds speak the colonizer tongue (Spanish), where I’m an observer putting my chosen, temporary not-home and my impressions of it in an online space. I hope I’m less verbosely self-conscious and let myself write and let myself think and then only pace around it afterwards. What’s funny is that these circumstances really are making me write again. That’s why I’ll call this a healthy loneliness for now—not one of projected absence onto some masculine love vector of a chasm or void. I can hear the girls, the three sisters who I live upstairs from, giggling from the ground beneath me. I’m a bit jealous of the laughing family, all the sisters, but they get wrapped up in the Spanish-dubbed American TV show that seems like a novella once I walk in to wish the family buenas noches.

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I had originally wanted to use this site to begin to write about my grandmother as a migratory being for my thesis, first as a refugee who was formerly rich and then in denial so still somehow a debutante, which is dark, fitting, and great at once to me. I take after my grandmother, I really do. “Dahling, there was a time when I wore only Armani,” she used to say to me. I’m here in Atitlán, working in a non-profit fashion type world, doing a penny pinching version of that. I might flirt over Whatsapp but am too tired and and ruralish to go on dates each night where men can pay for me so I can save rent money, “for the most beautiful apartment in Milan.” I promise she’s a real person.

I found her wedding photos, slide film, my favorite to play with in the light and reveal later, in the safe in the office that is filled with loads of cufflinks and 8mm film I can’t find a way to watch and may have exposed to light in the process. Then I look at odd, funny things my most recent or potential lovers are virtually tied to, and imagine, knowingly, against my better judgment, parts of a life we could’ve had together if we weren’t so mobile. The last time I wrote music, wrote short songs, my greatest hit according to the one friend I showed went like, Bye bye bye my short time lover. We’re all just passing through, and that dance around letting myself stray and trying to force something, some kind of love fixed to come with me everywhere, drives me a bit nuts. I should probably read Adrienne Rich’s “The Lesbian Continuum” once more and think about all my wonderfully evolving, fixed friendships with other women.

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She said it was too expensive to do something fancy, and her family didn’t feel like flying all the way over from Sweden. Also I can’t stand the flecks of dust, but maybe I can access a nice scanner soon.

How do we not feel disposable or embrace the shared disposability of each other? The other day, my coworker said that the people you travel with are the ones that can mean the most to you, even if you don’t see them again. Yes, and yes, it’s corny to be slightly deeper in thoughts (literally and figuratively) when travelling, to feel that I’m particularly lovesick while travelling, finding the truth behind the phrases, “Amor de lejos es de pendejos” (Long distance love is for fools) but also “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” (how would that travel best to Spanish?).

I move on too quickly but also not at all. Even though I may feel loopily lonely without an old friend to hug or hear when I’m more in my head—the space where I’m not a gringuita but always a gringuita because I don’t know where she’s going. Last night, I found some almost breakup letters I never sent and found them somehow comforting and unfortunately prophetic. I found three of them in a small pink notebook with bubble letters saying “girl” and smoochmarks on the cover, which I bought in Ecuador during the summer of 2015, the one summer leading into fall where I wrote little songs.

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I definitely wrote this during my film class at the Universidad de Buenos Aires before I bought proper school books.

Maybe my thoughts will pass the Bechdel test a bit more this time around. In all seriousness, I want to read honest, critical travel writers such as Bani Amour and Anthony Bourdain more closely. Back to my emo bullshit however, it’s no revelation that history repeats itself with little twists—por ejemplo, I utterly unoriginally cry and chainsmoke when my lovers move on faster than me as they tend to. This time around, instead of doing so on the socially acceptable smoking boulevards of Buenos Aires, I puffed on corner of my balcony. I was careful to sweep up any evidence of cigarette butts to hide from my landlords only to have them questioning if I was okay the next day because I apparently was slamming doors or jumping or singing Mon Laferte or Fiona Apple at 1 a.m. Whether on the long boulevards or the narrow balcony, there is some of something shared there though, and that’s worth probing—even if no one will read it, or even if my writing throat closes up again. I like that I can trace that arc when I travel.

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