Before our game on Sunday, our friend, Frisbee counterpart, and fellow prolific blog writer (that's right, three hyperlinks for three separate blogs) Andrew made a great point: you could almost tell how long a male North American had been in Argentina based on the length of their hair. We looked around and cataloged our fellow expats and their hair, all the while running our hands through our impressive manes: there is Joe, a teacher who was previously living in another South American country whose name escapes me, and before that was in the Peace Corps. He is an expert expat, consequently his hair is super long. Then there's Nick, whose risky business in the front is more than complimented by the extensive party in the back that runs well below his ears. It shouldn't surprise you he's been here longer than us. We thought about Steve, a math professor who has been living here for years, and assumed that his playful Jew-fro contained hair that would prove to be pretty lengthy if ironed. I thought about how much longer my hair would be if I had not cut it on my return, my hand still combing my luscious locks. I couldn't give you a physical approximation, but rather a temporal one: it would be more than 7 months long. That's right, we've lived here now seven months, the anniversary having come and gone without any serious thought or recognition. Last Thursday, like the month before that that marked our half-year anniversary here, warranted no celebration, no special notice; it was just another day for us in Buenos Aires. Now, we are the part of the old guard of Yankees in our Buenos Aires circle, when it feels like just yesterday we were the newbies.
Please notice my choice of words - living, not staying, or just being, but living. We are not here on vacation, this isn't our year off to "find ourselves", nor is it a permanent move. Simply put, we are living here. We're dealing with making enough money to support ourselves, establishing ourselves in a new place just as other college graduates, just on a different continent. True, we came here without promise of work, but we've since found it and are doing better financially bit by bit. After knowing a single person before we arrived, we now have more friends than we can count through Frisbee, Julia's TEFL class, our roommates, and other people we've met in our travels. Although our apartment may appear to be a hostel due to the traffic of visitors and relatively high turn over of residents (the latest coming next week with Jessica's departure - a post recounting her fiesta de despedida will come, featuring many of the blog's favorites, don't fret), we try as best as we can to live like a big family. Life here is not carefree. We are not partying all the time, we have to budget ourselves quite strictly at times, and now know what it feels like to live from paycheck to paycheck. Granted, we have more time on our hands than most people our age, and I work as much in a month as most of my friends do in a week, which makes me feel a little worthless from time to time, but that's OK. We've gotten lucky, had opportunities not work out, and managed to survive for seven months so far. When I look back on this experience, even if it ends next week, next month, or next year, I will not refer to it as the amount of time I spent in Buenos Aires, or the time I stayed in Buenos Aires - it's the period in which I lived in Buenos Aires, and I think that does make a difference. As Julia's post illustrates, we may not be legal residents, but we do live here.
People on this continent and the one up north always ask us when we will return. Two primary but not mutually exclusive reasons why they ask us this question immediately come to mind. First, some people genuinely miss us and want us to be back in the States. They have tired of Skyping, Facebook stalking, and want more than just reading the blog or chatting on GMail while wasting their days at work (I'm looking directly at all you young professionals out there), and want some face-to-face contact with their children or friends. I'd like to think the largest percentage of those asking us falls in this camp, even if it's just to soothe my ego. Secondly, people view our time down as I described before, as a passing whim that is meant to satisfy our need to get away for a bit and take a break before starting real life, wondering how long we will let it run, assuming it can't be much more. A few question what it is that attracts us to living outside of the States, and why we don't just come back. Others may even think we can't do it, or are surprised we've lasted this long and expect us back in the very near future, and I admittedly count a fraction of my-anxiety-induced-doubting-self in that faction. Also, at the beginning, I wholeheartedly intended on returning to the States by early October, in time for my friend's sister's wedding and ready to throw myself into the next phase of my life, and that is what I told anyone who asked. Maybe I said that because it was easier to put a limit on it for myself and for them; leaving it open sounded like a scarier prospect for both parties, one filled with much more uncertainty that comes with not knowing the next time you will see someone. Obviously, I still want to be back in New England for her wedding, but at this point the only way I'll be there is if I lose my job and cannot find work so I will have returned for good, or if an anonymous patron chooses to fund my jey-setting. I don't anticipate either of these will occur - but then again, a lot can change in five months.
So when will we abandon our new found South American home and come back to the United States for good? The short answer: we are not sure, whenever we are ready, whenever that is. I don't see that being in the immediate future, but definitely not in the distant future, as well. would prefer that we leave on our own terms, not because we have to. For those readers in the States, don't take this post as a sign of frustration over being asked when we come home, or as an order to stop asking us that very question. If that were to happen, we may jump to the conclusion that you've stopped caring about us! Who knows, maybe we'll leave once we have gone too long without any of you fine visitors coming down and bringing us peanut butter. Or maybe it will be because my hair is too long.