29/04/2010 § Leave a comment
It felt like I was looking down, watching myself as I entered Ezeiza International Airpot in Buenos Aires.
Whoa. That was trippy, I thought.
I had just spent the 45-minute cab-ride discussing the differences between Argentina and Canada with my driver. Then, within minutes of the drop-off for Departures, he mentioned his wife (ex-wife) who went back to Paraguay after 22 years of marriage. He explained that he had this disease called jealousy, and it drove her away, and he could never get her back.
Between mutual tears and interchanging the words path and growth — like some sort of emotional, yet robotic, two-bit language– I realized that things were going to be different. For real.
I got out of the cab and so did he. He grabbed my bags from the trunk and kissed me on the cheek goodbye, thanking me for talking with him. He will never see me again, but all he needed was someone to talk to.
It was at that moment that I couldn’t keep my head on the ground, just letting my body go through the motions. I watched as this little, 5-footer struggled to pull 4 bags filled with stuff — my home, my life, like a little turtle or a snail — through the faulty sliding doors and to the flight-counter in order to check-in.
I watched the same little lady lift the two 30-kilo bags onto the conveyor. How did she do it? Even now, I have no idea. She got her ticket and strolled around the shops, the food court (of course), went through security, the Duty-Free.
She boarded, she stopped over in Sao Paolo, she sat, she walked she looked through the Duty-Free, she sat, she nibbled on peanuts, she boarded.
She ate, she scanned through movies and television shows, she read, she fidgeted, she ate.
She didn’t sleep.
About two hours before landing in Toronto I woke up. My seat-mate asked me if I was from Brazil or if I was going home. I looked around and, even for a moment, realized that all that had just happened, even up to 6 months ago, was no dream. I said, I’m going home.
He was 71 years old and also returning to Toronto (upon his wife’s insistence as she was already in Toronto), but was born in Sao Paolo. There, in his Native city, he spent his Toronto-winters, living in good weather and surrounded by friends. He told me about his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his country, his life as a professional football player. When we landed he turned to me and said, no more. From now on, me and my wife will do everything together.
He will never see me again, but all he needed was someone to talk to.
After going through customs, which was a joke (I checked the “Yes” box for bringing in extra-regulatory items, half looking for a fight), I collected my bags. Not her. Me.
Coming out those sliding doors with my mom waiting on the otherside is metaphoric and cheesey, but the truth. As soon as she wrapped her arms around me I let out a tiny burst of frog-like gargling, a release from what felt like holding my breath under water for a really long time. Metaphoric and cheesey, but the truth.
I met some beautiful people on my way and now I get to reunite with the ones I already had.