And a nice, friendly welcome from the Girls of Mama Racha, where I happen to be at the moment, walking half an hour from my apartment on an overcast, cool day, cool enough to wear the Boulder, Colorado sweatshirt I bought in Boulder, Colorado a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve been back in Buenos Aires five days; the ships of my wife and I passed in the night: she left for Quito the day before I arrived from the States, so we have another week apart added onto the three weeks I spent in Boulder. Our apartment is quiet (especially after the weeks spent in the company of nine-year-old and six-year-old girls, who take squealing with delight — over anything at all that interests them — to new, previously unknown, decibels. Our pretty little white cat Sophie has taken to sleeping at the foot of our bed, on my wife’s side, so I do have a bright companion these dark, lonely nights.
I am not able to attach the notion of home to anyplace in the United States, although I was born there and lived there, essentially, for the first forty years of my life. When there, I enjoy the comfort of a known language, which allows me to tease waitresses, chat amiably with store clerks, understand the bus route, know what words on menus represent in terms of food, read signs, and meander thoughtlessly and without complications through the day, because language does not interfere with even simple things.
Yet, regardless, I feel alienated from that world, feeling more like a tourist just passing through than someone who belongs. I find life in the States to be easy, but not interesting. If you have enough money (which really isn’t all that much, no matter what investment bankers want you to think), then America offers an easy life, the accessibility of virtually anything at anytime, things work, most places are clean and safe, it’s a great place to go shopping, and of late even the food is nearly without competition from other cuisines.
My life in a variety of foreign places these last twenty-plus years feels more familiar to me than any life I’ve lately experienced in the States. When I am there, in America, I feel estranged, even within the bloat of familiarity.
Although maybe if my stuff was there? What makes me comfortable coming home is finding my things — books, art, bits and pieces of decor, my work tools, my clothes — waiting for me. Without these surroundings, I may as well be in some hotel, even if I am in the quite nice home of my daughter and her family.
This is not about anything. I’m just musing before making myself go back to work.