Going the Distance

Today, I went to school and learned new words. I was sitting with my friend Gonzalo, but after the 15-minute break (recreo), some of my classmates (girls) asked me to sit with them because there was an empty seat. I had already spent a little time talking to them another day and I like them a lot! Julieta and I are going out to lunch tomorrow (de verdad una merienda) and then at 6 or something she, Aldana, Martina, Lucrecia and I are going to meet up and go to a boliche (my discoteque, juliet, teenage dream!) I’m happy to make my own friends, because I want to give my sister her space. I do hang out with Marilina and her friends (we’re even going out tonight) but I want to give them time without me as well. After school today, Marilina told me “Voy a almorzar en la casa de la Paula” and she gave me the keys to the apartment. I had to find my way home on my own! I followed the route we always take, but took a wrong turn towards the end. I realized it two blocks later and had to backtrack. So it took 20 minutes instead of 10. Yet I found I enjoyed the solitude. There’s something really cool about walking alone in a busy city, and it was fun to figure out where I needed to go.

When I arrived at the apartment, my mom was about to make something to eat, but she needed garlic and didn’t have any. So I offered to go out and buy some. The first stand I went to did not have any, so I had to go to the abarrotes (they call it something different here, but that is the Mexican word I know for corner store, a Mom-and-Pop stop-and-shop). “¿Tienen ajo?” I asked the guy behind the counter, and they did. “¿Cuánto sale?” 8 pesos. I dropped the change I had into his hand (some 50 cent pieces) two by two. It was only 6 pesos. Oh. “Está bien.” He smiled at me, forgiving the disparity and I walked out into the sunlight, smiling. I also went to my first club volleyball practice today. My friend Gonzalo plays at the club and told the coach I was coming so it wouldn’t be a surprise. Oscar, my brother who is the same age as me but goes to university and spends most of his time away from the family (in his room playing video games, chilling with his girlfriend, practicing the guitar, or going out to meet friends), walked me there because I couldn’t remember every turn and it was far away. We used to spend time together, walking around the city, sharing music and talking, but not so much since I started school and since he’s being more awkward than usual for no apparent reason. Maybe it’s because I stole two of his friends. But I asked Oscar today if it bothered him that we meet up, and Oscar said no, said that I can spend time with whomever I want. So I actually don’t know why he’s acting weird. Anyway, like a real “caballero,” a total gentleman, he abandoned me with 5 blocks still to go, but I get it. I wouldn’t want to be my exchange sister’s chaperone either.

Well, I gave it my all today at the tryout as I always do, but especially because I wanted to present myself well and represent my country well, and I made some great blocks, hits, and serves. Even though the other players only come three times a week, the coach asked me to train at the club every day! I told him I am here in Tucumán to learn Spanish and to immerse myself in the culture and social life, so I cannot dedicate every waking hour to entrenamiento (training). We settled on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (9 hours a week). It’s kind of a lot, but I’m super happy to have my sport back in my life. It makes me happy in a way nothing else does. Also, the other girls I met are “re piola” or “super buena onda” (basically awesome) and the coach instructs well. In between my turns at the net (there are 4 girls who play my position, middle blocker or “central,” and only 2 sides of the net), the coach gave me some advice that will help improve my game. I played pretty well today, all things considered. Afterwards, I found my sister and my cousin Agostina waiting for me outside, even though my Mom AND Oscar had told me that I was going to meet one of the family members in La Plaza de Independencia, a few blocks away. I had “un puto hambre” (I was really freakin’ hungry) so I bought a panchuque, which may be my new vice. It is more or less a fried hot dog that I get with cheese and mustard. When I made it home, I fried sunny-side up eggs (huevos con la yema jugosa) for everyone to have arroz con huevos. Mamá usually makes dinner but I volunteered because I’m good at eggs and wanted to do it for her.

Then I called my boyfriend. I went out the apartment door, up a flight of stairs, stayed in the stairwell, waited until the lights went out, and looked out the window. We hear all about each other’s weeks, but then the conversation drifts to our relationship. Someone says “I miss you,” and then we’re on that track, talking about our long-distance. Sometimes he says things that hurt me because they make me think he doesn’t trust me, for example, when I tell him I miss him he tells me “te vas a acostumbrar” just like I’ve already grown accustomed to the climate (el pinche calor y el maldito aire húmedo) and el acento argentino “sho me dshamo carlina” (yo me llamo Carlina) and all the jargon “lapicera, corpiño, culiao, plata, pileta.” He tells me that I’m going to be so busy with my new girl friends I will forget all about him. He tells me that he knows what argentine boys are like (“chamuyeros,” every last one, smooth-talkers, overly assertive in their come-ons). I say it’s all talk and no game. He tells me if you play with fire, you get burned. I tell him that whatever their game is, I’m not playing it. I say that I care about him too much, that I don’t want a relationship here. He says “just like you didn’t want to get involved with someone before you left Philadelphia.” Which is kind of a good point, considering that I was trying to avoid getting attached to anyone back home and here he his, my boyfriend. Well, there he is. Not here. Anyway, I always get upset when he says these things. It makes me think like he doesn’t believe we could make it together, como si no pudieramos aguantar todo, like he doubts the veracity of the sweet things I tell him. I say if he trusts me, then he should know he’s the only one for me and I would never give him up for a summer fling with cualquier fulano (some random jawnski, as we say in Philly). No. A while later, he starts to say something similar, another one of those phrases that don’t sit well with me. I tell him “Don’t say these things. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I don’t want to hear it.” And he continues with it, because joking about his worries is how he copes with them, but I don’t like it. “Deja de hablar así,” I say. And he continues. “Calláte,” I say, and then realize this is the Argentine conjugation, el voseo. “Cállate,” I say, the tú form he uses. “Basta ya, ya basta.” Enough already. He must hear something in my voice, asks me what’s wrong, tells me it hurts him to hear me like this. I think, “but why do you say those things if you don’t want me to get upset?” but I say nothing. He asks me what’s wrong again, and I say “Oh, nada, olvídalo mejor,” (forget about it), which is something he always tells me and something that bothers me because I want to know what he’s thinking and something he knows bothers me. He presses me again and I say “It’s nothing” just like he always does. He keeps insisting that I tell him, just like I always do when he says “nada, olvídalo” to me, but I am silent for long enough that he finally says “Princesa. Escúchame bien.” I tell him I am listening because I know he is waiting for confirmation. He tells me that I am his everything. “Te amo, te amo, te amo, te amo” he says, and he puts it all into his voice. I say, “Ya somos dos, fijate,” which is also something he always say to me. That makes two of us. He continues on. He tells me he has never felt like this. He tells me that he doesn’t know what he would do without me. He tells me that he is super enamorado, that he misses me mucho mucho pero mucho. He tells me that he does believe me, that he does trust me. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Sorry, I hate to disrespect ol’ Fitz by applying his poetry to my high school romance, I just can’t help myself. Sometimes I just breathe literature.

The only other thing is I’ve been avoiding church. Not totally intentionally, because sometimes I’ve made plans and forgotten that the services at Living Water happen on Sunday night, not Sunday morning. Most recently, however, I realized that fact as I was talking with a friend about meeting up, and he suggested Sunday tarde/noche, which means afternoon/night because there’s no perfect word for evening in the Spanish language. So we settled on 7 o’clock, me knowing full well that I would be missing church. Oh well, I thought. My conscience or the Holy Spirit gave me a bit of a guilt trip, but I felt more happiness upon hanging out with a friend than I felt guilt. It was only later that I really felt bad. Time to talk to my Christian friend. To the Twitter!

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I’m actually going to go this Sunday. I’m going to make it happen. I was careful to make all my plans for Friday (today) and Saturday this weekend. How cool will it be to experience international worship once more. I’ve praised God in México, but with mostly gringos. Now a true Latin American service. I’ll go in armed with my Santa Biblia, la Reina-Valera 1909 translation, and with the peace of Christ. And I’ll come out with the full armor of God. Blessings from waaaaay South of the Border, from this beautiful stretch of God’s green earth. ¡Que Dios te bendiga!

 

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