On Sunday, aboard a beautiful horse aptly named Belleza, with black bulls looking on and the music of large birds cawing overhead, I found myself in a rare but wonderful place: completely surrounded by sky, and the occasional pile of bull poop.
I felt so free. Then I woke up today, a few days later, feeling suddenly nostalgic. I’ve been coasting this past month in Argentina, with Shannon at my side. Life has been completely stress-free, tranquilo, fun, light, distant (in a good way)…
But Shannon left this morning, and now I am suddenly more aware of my thoughts. After over three weeks of spending almost every moment together, I had to say goodbye to her! Withdrawal might be kicking in. Saying goodbye to friends is like having a happy breakup: it’s wonderful that you got to have them in your life, but then it kills you a little when you have to let them go. At least for me. Letting go… It’s as hard as it can be wonderful.
I also had to say goodbye to a couple friends (shout out to my favorite Puerta Roja bartender!), which I hate to do. This is the downside of travel: you meet people, so many wonderful people, and then… you leave. Friendships quickly form, then change shape, then pass, and sometimes dissipate, like clouds. Some last. Sometimes you get to return to the quickly-formed friendships, jokes, and memories, but not until months or years later. Sometimes you just return on your own, in your own head. Sometimes you never go back.
Everything was dandy until I woke up and realized, for the first time in weeks, I am alone. After such a FUN and HILARIOUS night out yesterday (laughing/smiling so hard my face still hurts… Ahhh, yes), it hit me today: I have to say goodbye. Lots of goodbyes. I HATE goodbyes. Like, HATE them. Sure, they barely mean anything these days but, holy crap… Can I move to Ecuador without saying ANY goodbyes? I’m going to try.
Hmm. Silence brings its own sort of noise. Now back to sky and horses…
Admittedly, I sometimes forget how powerful it can be to have so much SPACE surrounding me. Sitting there on my horse with sky all around on Sunday made me almost forget places like NYC exist. Shannon and I both craved a day in the country, so we scheduled a day trip at an estancia (a cattle farm/estate) 3hrs outside the city, in Dolores, Argentina. We both needed a little nature in our lives — some stillness, some crunchy nature sounds — and I couldn’t possibly spend 3.5 weeks in Argentina without going horseback riding.
While at the estancia, we had time to wander beneath the archways of many trees and around cattle fields, passing by horses, enjoying the feeling of gravel and dirt under our sneakers… The ground crunched and bugs hissed around us. The sounds of the country were rejuvenating. We got to enjoy the delicious flavors of an asado, and cheeky laughter-filled conversations with a friendly group of Argentines while a cow lingered nearby. It was all incredibly lovely (that’s the right word), and super refreshing after days and days of city slumming, restaurants, loud buses and cement. In order to truly be able to appreciate a city, I am a big believer in getting OUT of the city as much as possible. So, as much as I love cities, let me make it clear that I also LOVE nature. Need it.
I had a moment while riding my horse, Belleza. It was so quiet. All I could hear was the horse breathing and the random not white noise, maybe green noise, of the fields. Suddenly, I realized how much space was around me. I was overwhelmed by silence and sky, and it did wonders for my city girl soul.
We rode out into the cattle fields with black bulls and brown cows grazing nearby. Draped all around us was sky. I looked behind me, to both sides of me, up and out… It was everywhere. Overwhelming amounts of uninterrupted sky pouring over us, making me feel small in a big world. All that mattered at that moment was right there, in each step through the tall grass.
I have two days left in Buenos Aires. For the most part, I’ll be alone. I have a lot of writing to do and a lot of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. to take care of before I leave the apartment ready for the next person’s Argentinean adventure. But all I can say is that this trip has been absolutely wonderful for me. It breathed new air into my soul, new energy, new excitement about life and what I’m about to take on, and it couldn’t have been a better way to transition from one phase of my life to the next.
As I rode off into the field of the estancia, in my happy place (on horseback under unending sky), I realized that, while I was completely surrounded by piles of bullshit (hehe), I was also as far away as I could possibly be from most bullshit. It felt like a little piece of the world had been unzipped and let out for me to see, to breath in, and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
Although the constant traveling and adventuring has caught up to me (last week, I just felt exhausted and sickish), and I have plenty more ahead (uh, 7 days in NYC to unpack from Argentina, pack up my years of NYC-living, move out of my apartment, and pack for over a year in a country I’ve never even visited… yep), I can’t help but feel wonderful. I know that, right now, I’m not thinking about how I want to live my life, planning how I can maybe do the things I want to do, thinking about it all, daydreaming… I’m DOING it, right here, right now, in this slight exhaustion that I feel, in this silence, under that big sky, on that horse in the countryside, in this kitchen in Buenos Aires on a cloudy morning…
I’m living the life I want to live, and that’s all I can try to do. No matter where I’m located, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. Feel free to meet me there…
Listening to this right now, and it’s hitting the spot: Sade, Babyfather.