Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES, PART 2

Yesterday was an important day. It was the two-year anniversary of my arrival in Buenos Aires. I'd visited the city four times before moving here (the photo above is from the last day of my second visit in late December, 2005), but in a lot of ways, when I stepped off the plane on that Saturday morning of September 16, 2006, it was almost like I was seeing the city for the first time.

Visiting a city is so much different than living there. As a visitor, we spend most of our time around people who are paid to be nice to us. But when you live in a city, you see it--and its citizens--for better and for worse. I'm thankful for everything that's happened to me, good and bad, since I moved here. It's all helped me evolve into the person I am now, someone far different than I was two years ago, someone whom I like and respect.

Not that I didn't dig myself while I was living in New York. But my last few years there, I lived life in automatic mode. I was going through the motions. It's called getting stuck in a rut. It happens to everyone who lives for too long without forward motion, without taking risks. Sometimes I miss the regular paychecks (not so much getting up for work, spending forever there, dealing with colleagues whom, for the most part, I didn't really care for), but leaving career and ambition behind is something I had to do.

At the time, I thought it was to preserve my sanity. But the end benefit has been so much more. I feel as if I've discovered a simpler form of living where status and the accumulation of stuff is less important. I rarely step foot into retail stores anymore, unless it's to get something I need and don't merely want. And yesterday as I was jogging, I realized that for the first time since college, the people in my life are there because they like me. They really like me. (BTW, that is a play on what is actually a misquote of Sally Field's second Oscar acceptance speech.) What tangibles do they have to gain from being around me? Before I moved to BA, so many people associated with me because they wanted something, whether it was monetary (sad, but true), a career boost or publicity for their latest project or artist. Now that I no longer come with those fringe benefits, the people in my life can basically be narrowed down to two types: those who are looking for sex (annoying, but it's nice to be able to turn heads, still) and those who, in the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, are waiting on a friend.

Sometimes I find myself walking through the city, trying to recapture that sense of discovery that I had in the beginning. But I like this time so much better. A lot of my so-called friends from those early days have left the building (in the aftermath of being attacked and robbed in my apartment by burglars six months after my arrival, I discovered which friends were true and which ones were fairweather), and now I have an inner sanctum of locals and expatriates who, while not as familiar as those I left behind in the U.S., are no less loyal.

I'm excited about the future. Sometimes I suddenly panic because it's so uncertain, something I never imagined it would be. (After all, you are reading the words of a guy who was once described by his brother as "a man of the firm.") But at the same time, I love that aspect. I feel that I can be anything and anyone I want to be. And I have a feeling I will eventually wind up in some totally unexpected yet completely desirable place. As they say, the best is yet to come.

Now pardon me while I get the door. I think the cliché police have come to take me away.
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