She was jealous.
I could see it in the way her forehead was furrowed, hear the bitterness in her voice… until I took my headphones out.
My sister’s mouth kept moving on my phone screen, berating me for not enjoying myself beyond all reason in a foreign country while she was stuck at home in the states. “How can you possibly want to come home? Why are you not having the time of your life? Do more! See more! Go out more! Have more fun, dammit!”
Or something along those lines. Having removed my headphones, I’m paraphrasing. My point, though, is that hers is a common reaction. Should I mention anything about missing home, the sun, my friends, etc., I am immediately rebuffed. How could I miss summer in the states when my current living situation is so thrilling? The nerve.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Argentina. I like the city, its architecture, and its incredibly friendly people. I like the wide-eyed looks of pleased surprise I receive when someone I meet here realizes I speak fluent Spanish. I like the public transportation, the food, and (strange as it sounds) falling asleep to street noise. I hear other people around me living their lives and I feel in good company.
But I didn’t have to. I could’ve hated it, and that would have been my choice. You are not obligated to fall in love with a city in South America, no more than you are obligated to follow a regular sleep schedule or take milk with your coffee.
And I’m not in love with Buenos Aires, no more than I’m in love with beautiful strangers I see in passing. It’s lovely, it’s here and now, and it will soon be over.
In four days I’ll leave Buenos Aires, and who knows if I’ll ever be back. My experiences here will travel with me, though. Maybe they’re not the experiences that everyone back home thinks I ought to have had — wild, crazy parties every night and galavanting around with a trendy porteño crowd. But that’s not what I wanted out of Buenos Aires in the first place.
My time here has been good enough for me, which in turn should be good enough for anyone who asks me about it. Studying abroad is what you make of it, and I’ve made the time here my own.
I will miss this crazy city, but it’s time to go home.
Title reference: everyone who’s ever heard of Argentina or Eva Perón knows this song.