3.23.2009

Buenos Aires and back












It has been a while since I have written here.

Now I feel like I'm apologizing to my diary!! -- which, in fact, this blog has effectively replaced.

Chuan and I spent the last week in Buenos Aires, of all places, as a much belated honeymoon. I hadn't been there in over five years, since I studied abroad at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 2003, but the city has been one of the most important places that I have lived in, and I have long wanted to show it to my husband. So, when we had the same week of spring vacation from our respective universities, we jumped at some cheap airline tickets, found ourselves a small apartment to rent for the week, and took on the town!

Besides being the place where I perfected my Spanish, Buenos Aires was where I first saw a therapist for my eating disorder, where I took the first steps towards understanding it, and where I purged for the last time. I was worried that, being there, the old urges might come back, but they didn't. The very foods that I used to binge on -- ice cream, alfajores, cakes and candies -- did not hold the same allure as they used to. This time around, I was more interested in trying out different steak houses and drinking Malbec than in stuffing my face with sweets.

It gave me a lot of satisfaction to be able to visit that city again, without feeling overwhelmed by memories of my eating disorder. In the end, despite the suffering caused by bulimia, my year in Buenos Aires was a healing experience. In therapy and out of it, I learned new ways of relating with the world around me. I discovered new sides of myself in Spanish; being a foreigner allowed me the space that I needed to construct a new, stronger identity for myself. I also credit the people there with helping me, albeit unknowingly, begin the road to recovery. The most meaningful relationships that I developed there -- with my therapist, my host mother, the director of my exchange program, and numerous Argentine friends -- offered me the opportunity to try out different ways of relating with others, and to establish personal boundaries that I had not been able to establish before.

This week, with Chuan, I was able to visit some of those people again, and to remind myself that the past is never past. It circles back and says hello from time to time. For a few years, not long ago, all I wanted was to return to South America, to escape everything fearful and broken about my life in the United States. This week I was afraid that, returning to Buenos Aires, I might feel some nostalgia or the stirring of those old longings to run away -- but NADA of that reappeared. I can always return to Buenos Aires to visit, I realized, but it is not my home in the way that Minnesota was and New York now is. I am American, not Argentine or Chilean or Brazilian or Chinese or any of the other identities I have tried on. I am home in New York now, and more at home with my body than ever before.

6 comments:

Reagan said...

Beautifully written. I am so happy for you.

Kristina said...

I think there is something SO important about being able to return to a place of significance and realizing that we have changed and that we don't have to repeat the same mistakes or have the same experience. We can reclaim a place and our memory/ies of that place.
Thank you for sharing!

Kristina said...

AND Argentina (and Chile) are totally on my list of places that I want to see before I grow old!

Ai Lu said...

Kristina:

Yes, I think that what I was feeling in Bs.As. was that I could revisit my past without it overtaking or overwhelming my present experience.

Argentina and Chile are both wonderful places, in their own ways. I spent a year in each country and took something different away from each of them.

Ai Lu

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Richard said...

Well written, it is really nice to go back to a place and remember stuffs. Thanks for sharing them. One day I'll visit Buenos Aires. I wish you the best of luck.

Ritchie
all inclusive vacation