One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
I was working in my room as normal last month when a teenager walked into my house and started rummaging through things near the door. He didn’t steal the PlayStation, so I was more intrigued than worried.
“Eh, Ale, tienes llaves?” he called, asking for my keys.
How in the world did he know my name – let alone my nickname? I was even more intrigued. I threw my keys to him.
About 10 minutes later, my roommate walked in, followed by the teen, a girl and a woman.
“Mi familia,” my roommate said.
They got comfortable.
* * *
Ten-year-old Roberta likes to play with people’s hair. She brushed mine for close to an hour soon after meeting me. I taught her the French song “Agadou,” complete with the dance. She thought it was great.
Fourteen-year-old Martín likes video games and will eat anything. One night, he ate my spicy, terribly-overcooked Chinese-style rice. It was too spicy for his sister, so he ate her portion, covered in whipping cream to tone it down.
Laura is my roommate’s mother. She has a strong, liberal spirit and makes beautiful jewellery. She gave me a wonderful bracelet, made with her own worked metal and glass beads. She never uses plastic.
* * *
My Italian friend’s sister looks just like the pictures of her. Short hair, big beautiful eyes that spoke.
His parents barely speak a word of English, but said pleasant things with their eyes, too. There was a constant message: that their son certainly kept them tired with an Argentine road trip and a boat ride across the river to Uruguay.
The hugs, the kisses, the slights and fights. I couldn’t understand the specific words, but there are certain things that don’t need translations. A loving family’s relations are one of those things.
* * *
For Pesach, I went to my partner’s Buenos Aires family’s feast. I showed up late – as usual – which meant I was just on time for food. I enjoy the company of my partners’ cousins and second cousins. I met my partner’s great-uncle, too, a man who I had heard much about. I asked him about his life and the life of his brother (my partner’s grandfather). I tried to soak up as much as I could. I love my partner, and as such, I can’t help but love his family members and the similarities I often see.
After dinner, I sat around and chatted politics with them. We discussed the state of the media, and which way the outlets leaned.
This Tio of my partner’s is really wonderful. As he waited with me at the bus stop, he got a little nostalgic.
“65 años acá,” he said, noting how long he has lived in Buenos Aires. “Qué vida.”
* * *
When Easter Sunday came around, we Argentina Independent interns got together for a lovely little dinner.
Roast chicken. Mashed sweet potatoes. Leeks. Roasted Peruvian potatoes. Gravy good enough for the gods. Red wine, white wine and beer. Chocolate cake.
And most importantly, the company.
We come from Canada, Scotland, England, the United States and Italy. We can joke with each other about almost anything. I tell them pretty much everything about my life. We eight have a strange connection that I didn’t expect.
We laugh a lot.
* * *
My grandfather’s 85th birthday was April 14.
From his party in Ontario, my sister used her iPhone to connect me with the guests.
I was passed from aunt to uncle, from sister to sister’s new boyfriend, from cousin to grandmother.
My grandparents yelled a lot, making sure I caught every word.
As I drank a glass of red wine in his honour, my grandfather opened a couple of his presents as my sister held up the phone.
This is how our conversation went:
“Now don’t go driving now,” said dear Pappy, making fun of the wine in my hand. “Better take a donkey!
“What’s this – Pampers diapers?” he said, opening my sister’s present to him. “Oh Ritz crackers!”
“You got Pappy crackers?” I cackled.
“I did not get my grandfather Pampers!” my sister said, misunderstanding me over the thousands of kilometres the sound travelled. “I got him all the junk food he’s not allowed to eat!”
My grandfather’s a diabetic. All night, he had been eating cake and goodies, getting up on a sugar high.
“Look – you’re drinking, and I’m getting drunk!” he shouted at me.