A hike happened, with 9 different ladies and only 1 common-denominator friend, thrown loosely together, after work on a Tuesday.
I Once Was Found, But Now Am Lost
I used to surround myself with art and artists, going to dance concerts, the symphony, gallery strolls, exchanging essays, attending open mikes, listening to works in progress, sitting in black box theaters…
…and now I don’t. Not really, anyways. Maybe it was because I was in college then, surrounded by a frenetic, creative spirit and other young passionate artists, musicians, dancers and writers. In college, this is what you do, and these are the things you’re working on–you and your friends and everyone else. So maybe it’s easier to get wrapped up in innovation and aesthetics.
Or maybe I’ve just gotten lazy.
I went to my friend’s art show tonight. She wasn’t even at a point yet to be selling things, but wanted simply to show her work. There were other artists and designers, as well, and young tattooed and/or pregnant people, eating snacks and mingling.
And I was there, but it wasn’t the same as it once was. I didn’t feel a part of the creative whirlwind.
Perhaps there are some things which, once lost, can never be recaptured, moments in life so fragile they can’t be held…
Or maybe I’m just getting old.
Back to South America
Not literally, of course. Who knows when I’ll go back? Maybe never. I’ve fully submitted myself to the whims of chance. Mostly out of laziness, but still.
The point is, I will now be writing about my adventures in the past tense (and damn glad of it, but more on that later).
* * *
When we last left off, I was on top of Macchu F***ing Pichu! What?! YES. And before that I was in La Serena. But we’ve skipped a part, Friends! Lots of parts, actually, so don’t get too set on more Macchu Pichu photos right this instant. You’ll have to wait for those. Patience, Friends.
Anyways, in addition to sunbathing and reading, Brett and I enjoyed other activities in La Serena. Namely, getting sick. Brett spent most of the time in La Serena sleeping and grumbling, while I went for runs and read outside and took photos. Then I woke up with a sore throat, the day that we left, and followed that with the most miserable overnight bus-ride of my life. Only to arrive in San Pedro de Atacama (pictured above), with aches and chills.
Let me tell you, the Chilean desert is not a great place to nurse a sore throat.
But there were kitties!
And there was an overpriced barbecue which I signed up for mainly for the 3 glasses of wine. Because drinking when I’m sick eases my symptoms, although Brett’s friend Josh unkindly informed me that it’s “really bad for you.” Whatever. He also said that your lymph nodes under your neck are tonsils, so…
The hostel we stayed at (pictured above) was actually not too bad a place to be sick–plenty of sunshine, hammocks, hot water for up to 3 minutes, etc. They organized all sorts of excursions and events, like the barbecue, and we met friendly and interesting people from all over the world–a Chilean astrophysicist/musician, an English couple who’d saved up for years and then quit their jobs to travel together for a year, some pleasant girls from Iceland…lots of stories there.
The astrophysicist was named Sebastian, and he gave me my first charango lesson then cancelled plans with his friends to have dinner with me. I wrote in my journal that I was pretty sure he was into me, but that I just wanted a change of company and a solid, vegan meal.
You see, it was in San Pedro that I began to seriously reconsider traveling with Brett and Josh. But that’s another story…
* * *
To be continued!
And to think, this all started in a church…
…where we went to hear classical guitar. And eat Oreos. Then we drink wine from mini bottles on top of an overpass. And then we went to a bar/club.
…where we drank more, danced to live rockabilly music, hit on the coat-check girl, got hit on by inexpert boys of all nationalities, and danced ’til the wee hours of the morn.
Then I walked home alone, got lost, and asked some sailors for direction. I was maybe still drunky when Brett woke me up this morning to catch our bus.
Don’t tell Mom.
The Absolute Best of What CouchSurfing is and Can Be
Valparaíso (or “Valpo,” as the locals call it), is a crazy place. Chaotic, bohemian, grungy. And our CS stay here is like a microcosm of the city itself, with 3 hosts/inhabitants and SEVEN surfers–a german couple, an Italian, a Brasilian, a French girl, and then me and Brett.
When we first got here, I was feeling quite overwhelmed, unsure of what we should do (turns out: relax) or where we would sleep (turns out: the couch). People who’d been surfing for a while were making dinner, and seemed so at home. I wasn’t sure which would be more rude–assuming that we could eat some of their meal, or going out to eat, even though they were cooking.
Giuseppe’s dad (in Santiago) said that the world is supposed to end May 20th. Even though I don’t believe that, I had a low moment, thinking that I could be potentially spending my last few days on earth traveling somewhat aimlessly, spending money on trifles like food and buses, surrounded by strangers.
Then I remembered that, if I can’t be content and peaceful in the here and now, then life has no meaning for me. So I immersed myself in the present, opened up my heart to our hosts and fellow couch surfers, and had an amazing time. With fajitas.
This is what we call communal living, and it is equal parts chaos and beauty.
Introduction to Buenos Aires
Spent the afternoon out walking around with Jose, after napping for 2 hours on his bed.
I must seem so non-plussed to him, but really it’s just…I don’t know.
I guess I don’t feel any radical changes right now, despite being in a foreign country.
I guess it’s pretty weird that yesterday I was in the Spring and now I’m in the Fall. That, at least, continues to blow my mind.
National Pi(e) Day!
…was last Tuesday. How did I not know about this in advance? Anyways, now I know, because it will be every year, March 14th (3.14…). This day, however, is not to be confused with National Pie Day, which is January 23rd. I celebrated that one last year.
Which gets me to thinking about how much has changed for me in just over a year. Last year, I baked that pie at my moms’ house, where I was living in the basement, next to the coal shoot. I baked the pie by myself, because baking is one of my many coping mechanisms, and I had much to cope with–lack of friends, lack of personal space, lack of direction in life, etc. I was taking everything personally, you see, feeling that I didn’t have decent friends or quarters or plans because I didn’t deserve them.
Now, I do have those things:
AND a much-improved sense of self-worth. And guess what, Friends? It was the self-worth that came first. I had to trust that my shitty circumstances were just that–circumstances. That they did not reflect who I was or what I was capable of or what I merited. I had to trust that I could and would have a better apartment, better friends, and better, more-suitable goals. That I was not inherently flawed, but just going through a bit of a rough patch.
And now? Well, now when I bake a pie, I have many lovely ladies to share it with, friendships that continue to grow and develop and deepen all the time. Now I don’t have to use my moms’ kitchen (unless I’m house-sitting), because I have my very own. It’s small, and imperfect, but it’s all mine.
Now I don’t have to feel guilty about dropping out of school, or quitting my band, or looking for a new job, because I know that it’s okay to want better for myself, and that I deserve it. I know that my thoughts and ideas and dreams and aspirations, no matter how radical or half-baked or uncertain, are all mine. I can do what I want, like eating leftover pie for lunch.
Not that there was much left over.
Some nights it is all about beer, brats, spuds and ladies. While watching Newsies. Did you think those things were not compatible? Did you think that ladies’ nights had to be about wine and finger foods and girl talk and rom-coms? Well think again:
This is real life, Friends. This plus, you know, complaining about things (work, life, boys, etc.), looking up hot boys’ pictures on the internet, giggling over silly and/or perverted jokes, and just…enjoying each others’ company. Mutual love. And Boozies.
That’s when you turn Newsies into a drinking game, Friends.
Once, Twice, Three Times a Ladies Night
I’m just really stoked on friendships right now, guys. Remember how I was so excited about a platonic Valentine’s Day? And that was BEFORE I knew that there would be chocolate-dipped strawberries. These are good times, Friends.
I guess it’s extra-special for me because I haven’t ever really had a close-knit group of girlfriends. Hell, I’ve only ever been part of a friend group once, and that didn’t pan out. For most of my life I’ve had individual, free-range friends, all members of their own, separate groups. This always made birthdays hell. WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. Very stressful.
But this birthday was a smooth integration of different friends, old and new, male and female, everyone just getting along, NBD.
Which led to Buttercheese (Stephanie Classic) hosting the platonic V-Day/Lady Pedofyle meeting. With chocolate-dipped strawberries, why not? And salad–she made salad–and mac and cheese. We all sat down to a nice meal together at the big wooden table, then we gave each other chocolate. Then we watched a movie and talked about EVERYTHING. How fucking cool is that?
I’d been feeling for a long time that it was so difficult to make close friends as an adult, because everything had to be an outing, a luncheon. But lately I’ve stumbled into a group of amazing guys and girls who are down to just hang out like there is no tomorrow. Field trip to the liquor store? Thanks, Adam! Wanna go for a run, or a walk, or feed me dinner? Thanks, Eric! Wanna come over tonight because I’m house-sitting for my Moms and just get drunk and talk about relationship troubles like everyone assumes we do? Thanks, Stephanie P. and Kristin and Nicole!
* * *
I think it’s easy to get caught up in being a grown-up and depending so much on your significant other or your family, then friendships are reserved for maybe just going out for coffee, or drinks, for a quick and dirty update of each other’s lives, all gossip and drama and anecdotes, before retreating back into the comfort of your small world.
And I think that’s sad. I’ve felt for a long time that quality, low-maintenance, close friendships were crucial to a happy, well-rounded life.
It’s just that now…now I have some of those. And I could not be more grateful. Giddy, really. And isn’t that what this is about? A space to be silly, keep it simple. I think that has been the best birthday gift of all–no easy feat, when you consider the incredible material treasures brought to me from far and wide:
I am feeling much loved lately, is what I’m trying to say.
Also: Thank you.