"I hope that you are quick to return communication because you know you have lots of friends over here....."
I stared at the facebook message in spanish that Marisa had left me. I truly wished with all my heart that I was reading her message from some cafeteria somewhere close by in Buenos Aires. Instead, I was reading her message from another continent on the other side of the planet. There was a stab of sadness as I read her words while hearing the rain pour out the window in Victoria, BC. I closed my eyes and recalled the events of that last week in Buenos Aires.
It was in the last 2 weeks of my time in Buenos Aires that Marisa and I were able to cement our relationship and establish a firm foundation. Truth be told, if I had left the country any earlier, I would have completely aborted something that was growing between us. Then came the nite that would be my last cell group. She walked into the room and her face beamed the moment she saw me. But the news I had for her would be one that would almost cause the light to go out of her eyes.
Working up my best spanish I told her that this was my last cell group and that I leave Wednesday for Canada. Her eyes always told a story and when I looked into her eyes, the story that her eyes were telling me was that she did not want me to leave her here in the country. I was her first North American friend and this would be the first time she would be separated from someone who she had feelings for. I let her know that assuringly that this wasn't going to change anything between us and that it was simply a different season for our relationship. She would grow and I would grow and when I came back we would have a whole new relationship.
It's funny because as I was talking, she kept interrupting me and butting in. And this is where some of our cultural differences started to kick in. Since the time we are kids growing up in North America, our teachers constantly are telling us "Don't interrupt...it is rude" So it gets stuck inside our heads that interrupting is rude and anyone who interrupts is being rude.
One things I would learn from being a cross cultural relationship is that from the day that we are born, our culture and society starts to give us life lessons. Lessons on social conduct, do's and don'ts and cultural taboos. Where we can start to run into problems is that all of Marisa's life lessons are completely opposite to mine. Certain behaviors that is rude in one culture is welcomed and encouraged in another culture.
I didn't get offended or upset at that moment but I took time out to research it later on and found out that in the Argentine culture, interrupting someone in the middle of a sentence is actually a sign that they are interest in what they were saying. When Marisa was interrupting me, it was because she was really into the conversation and it was of great importance to her. It's funny because she was the only one of all the Argentines that seemed to be taking all this very hard. Another indicator that there was something more there that had happened between us that meets the eye.
As I sat there from Canada reading her facebook comment about messaging her back quickly, I realized that it was more than merely a comment....she was telling me exactly what she want she wanted to give her a sense of security. And security for her meant a sense of routine where I messaged her on a regular basis so that she knows that I haven't forgotten about her while in another country.
There isn't really much to be said about my time in Canada. She was happy for me that I got to see my friends and family and she really didn't try to make it about her or draw attention to the fact that she wanted me back into the country ASAP. Although none of us liked separation, in reality it was good for us. Buenos Aires had been like a whirlwind of experiences and I needed the time away to pause and digest the whole experience.
What I couldn't get out of my head were her eyes. The way she had gazed at me unbroken. The way she always made sure she was near me. Even the way that she seemed to be taking my leaving harder than all the Argentines and on my first message in Canada, had made sure to let me know that she wants communication from me quickly.
WIth all the life experience that I had, the only interpretation for her behavior in my mind was that she must be flirting and having quasi romantic feelings. "This must be what she wants" I thought to myself. So I mixed in my communication with her with hints of flirtation because in an attempt to respond to her and what I thought she wanted and I what I thought she was doing. After all, what else could any of this strange behavior possibly mean?
Marisa never once made any comments about the flirtations that I had mixed in with my communication with her. But this interpretation of Marisa's behavior and my reaction to her would all lead up to some very interesting conversations and it was setting the stage for things to get quite interesting in the journey of our relationship. All I can say is that the universe and the higher powers that brought us together must have had a good laugh as they sat up there watching all that was going on.
Summertime in Canada means winter time in Buenos Aires. And for our relationship, it was definitely winter. I often wondered if I was just seeing things. Maybe there wasn't something special or different between us and all this was part of my imagination. Whenever that thought came to mind, I would flash to the that moment in the church service where she gazed upon me, those eyes completely transfixed on me as if enchanted.
Looking with hindsight, if I had ignored my instincts and disregarded the abnormalities in her behavior, that would have been the ultimate mistake. I was tempted many times to chuck aside any notion that something special had happened in the universe. I'm really glad now that I didn't do that but instead kept pursuing and seeking to know and understand and see beyond the naked eye.My relentless pursuit of knowledge and wisdom would eventually lead up to one of the most incredible and amazing discoveries about the Argentine culture and it's people.
But even though in that moment I had not quite figure out the mystery behind our relationship and Marisa's odd behavior, I did begin to grasp other things about Argentine culture. I had begun to see the relationship between tango and the people of Argentina. You see, in Argentine tango, the woman has to feel the man's lead. She never knows what is going to happen next. She just had to go moment to moment. This is why life in Buenos Aires is like a tango. You just have to live moment to moment,. You never know what will happen next. There could be a strike, protest, and a storm. and you must learn to go with the flow and not insist on your own time and schedule.
Most Argentines do not actually dance tango. But the good news is that tango is being revived and the youth of Argentina are starting to take interests. Whenever I told one of my 20 something friends that I danced tango, I always got a funny look. For the youth of Argentina, tango is something you read about in history books hearing that one of their friends dance it is abit of a surprise.
One thing that I do want to mention about those of you out there that may be interested in taking tango in Buenos Aires is that I would like to give a note of caution about lessons and practicas. Because Buenos Aires is the birthplace of the Argentine tango, tango is heavily marketed there. Every sign on the street advertises that you can have a free tango lesson along with a tango show. Spanish schools often have a tango lessons as part of their program that you can opt to include if you go down there for a course of some sort. The problem is that there are many bad teachers and bad practicas. I have seen people get taught wrong and I have been to practicas that had very little use in helping me advance as a dancer.
Anyway, back to our story. Eventually the season changed and ticket to return to Argentina was booked. Hope, wonder, excitement, questions filled my mind. Would things be the same between us? What would her eyes tell?.All these things went through my head as I stepped off the plane and the Argentine air filled my lungs once again....
YOU ARE READING
A series of life circumstance forced me into the life of a wandering nomad trying to find my place in this world. My journey for identity takes me into the very birthplace of tango, Buenos Aires. A chance encounter happens between me and a mysteriou...