Today, I sat in a park off Avenida Libertador waiting for Pat, founder of Pan American Whole Health Alliance, Sunday evening, she and a group of others will walk through Almagro handing out pan dulce to homeless people. I had planned to go, but since I'm taking Lila to a pena to dance, listen to music and meet other kids, I may not be back in time to meet up with the pan dulce group. So I met her this afternoon to make a donation.
Patt told me to be there "1pm punctual," meaning, I think, don't show up the standard Argentinian hour late. I know she's busy, so I was there two minutes early. She wasn't. So I sat under this tree to read and wait.
,A perfect breeze and cool shade calmed the heat of this hot summer afternoon, leaving me content to sit quietly watching. The area surrounding the park, Recoleta, fills will tourists, cafes, prix fixe lunches that always include a glass of wine. There, I watched the people in cafes drinking coffee and the others laying on the grass eating panchos.
I love this part of Buenos Aires. Museo de Bellas Artes sits just around the corner. We visit there quite often. There's a great modern section, and right now an exhibition called Approximaciones by Jacques Bedel offers some really beautiful works. They're all plastic and trash bags but when the light hits these large framed pieces just so, you suddenly see beautiful sunsets and ocean.
Behind Bellas Artes, you find the parks and just behind where I sat, the artesanal markets, where you can buy anything from beautiful hand knit sweaters to strawberries. The market is open daily, but it's best to visit on weekends when all the artists come to sell.
Across the street, I saw what looked like the trunk of a tree, but it couldn't possible be. It was enormous. I couldn't imagine a city tree grown to that size. So I went to investigate. And yes, it was indeed the trunk and enormous roots of what looked like a magnolia tree snaking through the ground.
Now that's the kind of tree I want Lila to grow up with. It's perfect for climbing and hiding. So much to see and explore. I've never seen a tree like that anywhere in NYC. In btween the roots, there's enough space to climb in and hide, or curl up and sleep. The branches would be perfect for a fort.
Then I noticed the garbage piled up between it's fingers, and since this is a public park, it's dirty with dog urine and certainly no place for Lila to keep her fort.
So relaxed, so content, so cool and calm... Beep beep beep beeeeeeeep beep beeeeeeep.
That was a car alarm jabbing through my head, making it impossible to think. Then I notice the contruction clanging in the background. And the small pool of water by my feet. What's in it? I'll never know.
Oh yes, I remember now. This is a city, like any other city.
I suppose part of me hoped I'd absolutely fall in love with Buenos Aires and I'd never want to live anywhere else. And I do find it endlessly charming, but in love? No. I'm done with cities.
Where crossing the streets here is easier, but you have to brave four lanes of traffic in two different directions often with no walk signal anywhere to be found. As in NYC, I remind myself that the drivers have as much of an investment in not hitting me as I have in not being hit. Not so much because they care about my life per se, but because you know what a hassle it would be with insurance, medical care, and the general angst of hitting and possible killing another human being? Who needs it?
New York City will always be my first and only love as a city, but I can't do it anymore. The noise and smog make it impossible for me to think or breathe. I'm tired of looking out my window and down to more street and pavement, hearing my neighbors every move and waking to the sultry sounds of metal clanging.
When we first left Brooklyn, I often visited Overheard In New York, partially because it's pretty damn funny, but mainly bc I was homesick. I'd picture that street, or building or park. So many of the quotes come from Barnard or Brooklyn Heights. I remember seeing some from Houston Street where I worked four summers in a row for a writer and her husband, a painter.I don't really go there so much anymore. I don't miss you like I used to, NY.
Tomorrow we leave for Salta. First, a twenty hour overnight bus ride. The seats recline so you can sleep, and they serve dinner and breakfast. (Mind boggling that a bus ride includes food). Then at some point after arriving in Salta, we'll decide if we're staying.
Yes, New York, you will always be my first love. The only city I will every truly love. But I don't like who I am when I'm with you. So yes, I'm so sorry. I still love you and probably always will, but you're not good for me and I can't see you anymore.