Monday, March 31, 2008

The last word on Buenos Aires

Before I got glasses, my vision wasn't terrible by any means. But since I got them, it's certainly better. And now I can't stop putting them on and taking them off again as I turn one idea over and over in my head: How many other things in life get worse so gradually that you don't even really notice, until something happens and suddenly you see so clearly?

Probably not an original idea, but it's the first time it occurred to me.

* * *

I was trying to finish my article Saturday when I took a break to run downstairs for pizza and ice cream. I was walking, pizza slices in hand, to the ice cream shop when I felt something flash through my body and lodge in the pit of my stomach. It was a thought: "Am I doing the right thing by leaving here? Oh, God . . . what if I'm not doing the right thing?"

* * *

I worry about this country. It has a lot to offer, a lot of potential . . . and a killer boom-bust cycle that has destroyed any confidence that people might have in the future, or trust among each other.

Can you imagine being in Europe early in the last century and looking toward the Americas for a way out? From a continent wracked with war, poverty and hunger, you look out across the Atlantic and see nothing but open land and opportunity.

And that's how it worked out for a lot of people who left Europe for the United States. But the ones who left for Argentina were in for a much rockier ride.

These last few weeks have been particularly difficult — certainly not horrific by the standards of historical lows, but no picnic either. A lot of people I've talked to have told me that they feel like the revival of the cacerolazos and the brutal resolve of the farmers on strike means that all bets are off. The rules that applied during the last administration evidently don't apply in this one, and that could spell economic and social trouble.

* * *

While I probably won't update as often, I'll still be blogging here after I leave Buenos Aires and before I start working for the farm. The beauty of naming my blog "The World's First Expat Blog" is that the title was never true to begin with. So now it'll just be a little less true. It is, at the least, still a blog. It was definitely prescient to include that in the title.

Some people reading this have known me half my life, some for years, others I've met since I started writing the blog, and still others I've never met at all. Some people leave comments and others prefer to suffer in silence.

No matter, I LOVE YOU ALL.

No, I'm just kidding. I do love some of you. But come on, it would be a little weird if I loved you all. I am glad you read the blog, though. It's been really gratifying.

* * *

Living in Buenos Aires has been great and I wouldn't trade these last three years for anything. But it's also prevented me from doing other things, and now it's time to move on.

I've always tried to check the mental balance sheet and make sure the positives about being here outweigh the negatives. And they always have; they still do. So why am I leaving? Because it's important to stay ahead of the curve. And I can see the way the curve is heading if I stay.

There are definitely a few regrets. I should have started selling more stories and doing more writing earlier on. But I didn't; I had what I guess you would call a writer's block. Also, I honestly did not believe there would be a continued media appetite for stories about Buenos Aires. I am completely sincere when I say that, though obviously I was terribly — almost comically — mistaken.

As far as other regrets, I should have started this blog sooner. But I didn't because I shuddered at the cliche of the expat blogger. (I still do.)

So, yes, there are some things I'd do differently. But overall, in moving here I chose the path of fewest regrets. That's the best way I know to make decisions.

It's why I came here, and it's why I'm leaving.


Tom said...

Sorry to see you leave, you have been part of my morning blog reading for the past several months. Your style and humor are unique and really, really fun to read. Though some expat blogs sort of lose their way after the shine of the new country wears off, yours continued to get better and more interesting.

Best on your upcoming journeys,

Lor said...

I Love your Blog, your Fruit slinger blog as well. You have such a clever way about you, the way you relate your happenings. You make even the most routine events seem interesting. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading more about your future adventures.

Sarah said...

We'll miss you! But can't wait for the Fruit Slinger blog to "re-open" soon :)

Wobbly Librarian said...

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Jeffrey said...

I remember discussing the blog option and there was dismissal. Not an overly snide dismissal— more of a cultural savvy dismissal that hinted at naivete on my part. Blogs were so five years ago (even three years ago). But I didn't give up on the idea for you because, really, what better thing for a writer with free time and American money to burn?

Yes, I'm still referring to you.

But I'm really glad that you didn't continue to "know better" because both of your blogs are spectacular. Almost as spectacular as online banking. And I'm not just saying this because I've known you half your life. I'm not even that interested in fruit and I'm looking forward to reading about it all summer. I don't have money to travel beyond the corner store but I can dazzle my friends with insider dining trips about a country many Americans can't locate on a world map. Thanks for helping me find a vicarious sort of living and feel smarter than other people.