Where am I?

20 02 2008

Today marks the one-week anniversary of my homecoming. Dramatic, I know, but it is a strange thing to be home. Really strange. For seven nights I have slept in my own bed, for six days I have enjoyed (and overused) the pleasures of a guaranteed hot shower, and for six days (ok, five) I have felt like a normal, non-traveling New Yorker again.

And yet, though it seems I have been home much longer than a week, all is still extremely different. I still enter shops and cafes expecting to hear and speak Spanish, I still crave my daily alfajor (even though I gave up sweets for Lent, but, admittedly, started Lent a week late: last Wednesday, when I arrived home). Although it’s a relief not roaming the streets with the heavy squirrel on my back, I’m having separation anxiety, andm save for an unseemly (and joyously) warm Monday, my usual whining about the bone-chilling New York winter is only exacerbated every time I see my summer-lovin’ tan in the mirror.

Needless to say, I am still wallowing in my “I just went on a great trip and now have to return to the real world” self-pity. But all is not terrible. Being home means many good things too: a blissfully overwhelming choice of clean clothing at my fingertips every day, grocery shopping and subsequent cooking, catching up with family and friends.

I have learned that there is a touch of celebrity associated with long travels. While gone, I was touched and thrilled at the amount of emails and blog comments that came in from both those with whom I am in constant contact and those I talk to only a few times a year. Now home, my back-in-service phone has been making up for lost time, in frequent use as I catch up with all those I haven’t spoken to for weeks and months. My weekend was full of drinks and brunches, and I am no where near done seeing and talking to everyone.

The best part about it (besides the overwhelming sense of how many amazing people I am fortunate enough to have in my life) is that every time I talk to someone new I get to relive the trip. Every time I have some new realization as to what it all meant to me: what I learned from traveling alone, the strength I derived from climbing a mountain, my aspirations to become New York’s favorite tango dancer…

And so, though all signs (and cold, cold winds) point to my being home in New York, I am also, at least in part, still in South America. And maybe always will be.

An Icey Welcome Home

13 02 2008

Nothing like a (freezing) cold shower to knock the dreams of tango dancing, sunny days, and wrought-iron balconies from one’s system…

I spent my last day in Buenos Aires doing a little shopping (shocking, I know), checking out the seal show at the zoo, and writing a few final postcards (which I happened, in my end of travel stupor, to have misplaced somewhere between the closed post office and the airport). When I checked in for my flight that evening, it was still about 70 degrees outside.

A mere 11 hours later I stepped off the plane in rainy 40 degree (but feels like 28) New York. At least I missed the blizzard of the day before. Upon waiting for my shuttle home I found myself writing my final travel journal entry, and at a bit of a loss for what to feel. It was a relief to be home, but at the same time felt rather strange. On the one hand I was coming home to a city I love, friends I’ve missed, and a life that doesn’t involve trying to pick out the least dirty thing to wear every day; on the other I had to leave a beautiful (warm) place—and so much there I’ve yet to see—and returning to the daunting task of job hunting. I was excited to return to my apartment, but unsure of what I’d do once there: finally at home, all seemed foreign.

The confused journal entry ended with a list of things that excited me about being home, including, but not limited to following (thrilling) items: the pile of mail that would inevitably be waiting for me, my full closet of (clean!) clothes, and most importantly, a hot shower.

After a somewhat confused shuttle ride, which involved my driver skipping one drop-off and then offering to drop me off at Second Ave. and 34th St., when I live at First Ave. and 10th St. (all for the low, low price of $21.95), I finally stepped into my apartment. I first said hello to some of my belongings, thumbed through the large stack of (mostly junk) mail on my desk, and put in a call to my waiting anxiously for the “I’m-home-call” mother, then headed happily to my bathroom and turned on the shower. Which never got hot.

A call to the super yielded the hasty answer that I would have hot water in an hour. I spent two hours sitting at the kitchen table, because I felt too dirty to sit anywhere else, and watching “Grey’s Anatomy” reruns on abc.com. Then I tried the water again. Another call to the super ended in his annoyed statement that I was not the only one waiting on the hot water. A very comforting thought.

It is now 2:00 p.m. and the number one item on my “things I’m looking forward to about getting home list” has turned out to be a sponge bath with boiled water. So much for my closet full of clean clothes. I think I need to go back to Argentina; I left some unsent postcards there…