Many of you may know that I studied in Buenos Aires on student exchange in 2011. They were the days, young, keen and eager to get things done and study my Latin American and social policy booty ’til the sun goes down. I had chosen to study two degrees and I saw this experience as a testament to both.
God did I suck at Spanish. All who speak English as a foreigner know that initial feeling of coming to an Anglo Saxon country with a slight loss for words. I did that with a less than experienced English Speaking Brain, but I was happy I had done it as so many do not. Learn a language, it opens your mind.
In Argentina, people use ‘vos’ in place of the usual ‘tú’, meaning you. Just that change means all the verb endings alter with it, unlike in English. Someone saying. “¿De donde sos?” in place of “¿De donde eres?” in other spanish speaking countries, meaning where are you from? Took on a more confusing meaning and I learnt so much about a Spanish that differed from my safe in Spanish class Australia days.
My Spanish did get better after 9 months or so and I felt a better understanding of the language. That is something that takes so much time and I improved immensely with another 6 months of student exchange in Mexico.
Currently, I am still looking for work as I write these words (I had a fatal accident on 30 Mar 2014 and today is 25 Feb 2016). I have been abused on many occasions or just ignored in a competitive realm and I am at a loss to say how this has happened. I was on contract at the time of my accident, file deleted, next worker. Those experiences and the issues of employers giving low pay do with high demands for Brain Injury, continuously having an impact on my work. All will be revealed in the book I’m writing about my experiences.
So I went to Argentina in December 2015 to see my boyfriend who lives in Brazil. It is a long story as you will read in the book one day (I hope) but despite the hard parts, times together are worth it. I had to spend the last of my money on seeing him. We had a great time.
I showed him my old home and it felt strange. It felt odd as life had moved on, friends and classmates had come and gone from Argentina. A product of my time since the accident is loneliness and with my boyfriend, loneliness I did not have. However, I had an odd recollection of my old Buenos Aires times.
2011 is only five years ago but in that time I had finished university (two degrees deemed as invaluable to many employers). I had lived in Mexico and travelled as I usually do to China, across Europe, across Australia and Turkey.
I had continued my life and yet this moment since the accident has stopped some elements reliant on work, including seeing my boyfriend. It was odd to think of all the effort I put in to knowing local customs and traditions, tasting the scrumptious life of the Argentine, but here I was a foreigner. Here, I was just another product of the streetscape. Here, I had become close to nothing in comparison to before, except in his eyes.
I recall walking around Recoleta Cemetery, inspecting the old tombstones and the atmosphere of the place. I loved this part of travelling and a feeling of being at home in some way. People had lived and died here, making Buenos Aires and Argentina what it was today. It was a pretty city and little had changed since my days of walking the streets many moons ago.
I walked past my old apartment building but didn’t feel connected to it. I was a wanderer and I walked without a homely connection as I once had.
We went to the usual sites of El Obelisco, La Boca and the general streetscape. I met an old Brazilian friend and saw a few who I had ventured with in my old Buenos Aires days. One of them was nice enough to let me stay in her home, a slightly needed economic boost in the land of unemployed too long Pablito.
I had changed.
I wasn’t the bright eyed boy I once was when I entered this city. The accident had changed me. I feel many years of pain and calmness had finally arrived. I spoke to one friend recently about it, people knew nothing but felt my change was something to do with the injury. It is but it isn’t, it is not built cognitively through the neurons inside but it is built on all the pain unseen. I don’t know how to genuinely describe the situation but I was not the young boy (not so much younger) who walked these streets.
I went to Palermo the day prior to my boyfriend arriving and got lunch. I sat there and thought a little of the place, of me, of where I was. The accident had given me a massively reflective nature and at times I had lost my belief that things would work in the way I once had on the bustling streets of Buenos Aires.
I had lost my pondering, but wondered for it back.
When we said our goodbyes at the end of the trip it differed from our last time a year prior in Perth. We rarely saw each other but together we were and we talked every day. We had learnt that in times of living peril you just have to keep going, and having another is important – wherever they might be.
He had returned to Sâo Paulo and I was ready for Sydney again at the end of our journey. I was not looking forward to it. Work issues will hopefully subside a little.
Here I sit at home after being fired from another less than satisfactory job, paying less than I had at university and less than my dreams. I accepted bad jobs as the competition for good ones surprised me entirely.
Money is not my goal of course, but bad money and bad roles were all that found me since the accident. I continue completing my book and I know it will end soon, having that book was an unexpected achievement, as was the boyfriend.
It will end and life will begin again. I had never endured this life stopping moment before and it made me think of old age or the experiences of others in the world, experiences in silent pain across the globe.
My heart goes out to you.
Return of the McMahon to his old home was good, but it was more the company and affection, not the place itself. Despite that, in my usual travel writing style I must say Buenos Aires is worth a visit to walk in the streets and be consumed by the place, the history of it and the living of it.
This post has the photos of the typical, but reflections of the times. One month until the book writing period covered ends and we will have a book closer for what I hope you all will read.
Peace and love.