Saturday, July 19, 2008

IDA Y VUELTA A LA GRAN MANZANA: HOME AIN'T WHERE MY HEART IS (ANYMORE) ...

... To paraphrase the opening track on Shania Twain's The Woman in Me CD. Yesterday I returned to New York City for the first time in 22 months. How's this for an interesting coincidence? My arrival yesterday came exactly two years after I left NYC for my fourth and final trip to Buenos Aires as a tourist. Well, actually, I ended up missing my flight that night (damn clueless taxi drivers and obnoxious JFK American Airlines personnel!) and had to take another one to BA the following day. But still...

I spent the last week in BA both anticipating and dreading returning to my old stomping ground. I was excited about seeing all of my friends again, but I also remembered how difficult my last few weeks in NYC had been. Not only did I have a nasty case of mono that made organizing the move a major challenge, but I also was plagued by severe panic attacks that sent me to the ER twice in one night five days before my departure.

Now that I've been back for nearly 24 hours, all of my fear and apprehension is gone. I'm thrilled to be reunited with my best friend, Dave, whom I haven't seen since he visited me in BA last October, and I'm looking forward to seeing some of my other friends at a little get-together that I'm having tonight as well as at my friend Amy's wedding next Friday (which is actually the reason I'm in town). I'm shocked at how so little about NYC has changed. Unlike in BA, where the price of everything goes up a few pesos every month or two, the cost of everything in NYC so far--aside from the taxis--is more or less as much as I remember. And it's nice to be living in my native language again, although it's kind of strange to walk down the street and hear English, and once or twice I've begun speaking to someone in Spanish before realizing that I didn't have to.

But I do believe that my love affair with New York City is over for good. When I stepped off of the shuttle at Penn Station and felt the sweltering heat beating down on my skin and saw the throngs of people scurrying on the sidewalk, my first thought was, How could I have spent 15 years living here? After nearly two years away, it almost seems like another lifetime or someone else's. Now I can't believe that anyone would live here by choice.

For all its power (or rather, abuses of), corruption and lies (there I go paraphrasing albums again--this time, one of New Order's) and despite those crazy, maddening porteƱos, Buenos Aires really is home. I already miss it madly, and I'm counting the days to my return. In truth, I began counting them down before I left. I always said that the true test of the depth of my feelings for BA would be how I felt about it when I returned to NYC for the first time. Perhaps that's part of the reason why I put off my return for so long. Now that I'm back, I realize that NYC is no longer home. And it's not just because my apartment here is being rented, so I'm staying with friends. It's because that old feeling--the special indescribable wow--is gone.

For good? Who knows? Maybe I'll feel differently once I've had a chance to readjust to being here. But I don't think so.

One down, 10 to go.
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