I've now been in Buenos Aires, Argentina for about five months, and I'm leaving this Friday night. I've spent a good amount of time being sophisticated and trying to think critically about my experience; this hasn't prevented me from falling in love with the city. What follows is, then, a parting series of thank-yous, at least until I, hopefully soon, return.
Desire to avoid sentimentality, begone.
Thank you, Buenos Aires, for having a climate that I got to like. (I couldn't handle northeastern Argentina. I guess the rain forest isn't for me.) You were very beautiful in summer and you have some nice fall leaves. Your milder days are very nice, and, when it rains, it pours.
Thank you, Buenos Aires, for being every bit as "cultured" as I expected you to be. The concerts (and the opera) I attended in the Colón Theatre were wonderful. You have bookstores everywhere and tango in public places. The Museum of Fine Arts is the bee's knees. (You also serve tea in cafes as if you were attending the queen of England.)
Thank you, Buenos Aires, for showing me that the U.S. is great, yes, but exceptionalism can be limiting. You, too, are a city of immigrants, with a Chinese neighborhood, a street named Armenia, and an Arab Catholic church. In the U.S. we are very worried about our political divisions; well, you have them here. (Yes, people really do still get fired up over Peronism.) Our national pride up in North America is sometimes deserving of caricature; here, you love your country just as much as we love ours.
Thank you, Buenos Aires, for showing me that, yes, porteños eat steak, empanadas, and dulce de leche, but they also eat sushi, hamburgers, and their own version of hot dogs. Thank you for showing me that, yes, there are lots of buildings dating from the French-crazed building boom of the Belle Epoque, but there are also remnants of the colonial past. (Just visit Plaza de Mayo.)
Thank you, Buenos Aires, for reminding me that a country can have serious internal disputes, a troubled past, and an uncertain future, all while still being a beautiful place. Come to think of it, this is the case in all countries.
Buenos Aires, you graced me with the unforgettable experiences: singing in the Metropolitan Cathedral with the president there; surprising me with a historical country-wide power outage; and getting to better my Spanish in the company of native speakers of Finnish, French, and German.
There are many more things I could say, and I think I will, eventually, perhaps in future articles, and definitely in conversations and, in other ways, in poetry.
God bless you, Buenos Aires. You were like a dream that I lived in for a slice of my life, but you were real, and, thankfully, I will always remember that.