I look to my left, down the tracks. The television hanging from the ceiling blares the latest news in Spanish. I can’t make out the words, all I hear is the train hurdling towards the platform. My eyes dart from cabin to cabin hoping to see which one has the fewest people populating it. The metal wheels scrape and screech as the conductor brings it to a stop. All the seats are taken and today is busy, I step through the closest open door, squeezing past everyone who is crowding the doors.
I only just returned to Buenos Aires. I had been visiting family for over a month – snowmen, hot chocolate, and cuddles with cute babies. I found myself feeling alone there. I blamed it on the inability to get out of the rural home I was staying in. Now, in the midst of an overcrowded city, I feel the same. I have just gone through utter extremes and yet, I feel the same in both places.
The air. The air is always different. Buenos Aires air is heavy. It carries a wet heat that soaks through clothes and makes my thighs stick together. I leave a sweaty ass mark on every bus seat. Sometimes the air carries a smell. On the 14th floor the only odd smell is coming from the kitchen. It is so hot we only have a tiny garbage bin. Forgot to empty it. Other times on the streets the barrage of smells is overwhelming. A city without a filter.
The sky though. It’s so big, the color is so brilliantly blue. I’ve never lived under such a strong sun. Three hours and my fair skin has dozens of new freckles and a serious burn. I better get some sunscreen. Even though putting it on with this kind of air is a challenge. It just slips and slides.
The experience of feeling lost inside my own skin is, unfortunately, not foreign to me. Perhaps that is why I seek out foreign locales. Away from my home country, being strange and out of place is expected since I am not navigating through my native culture. Meandering through crowded streets provides an anonymity that could never exist anywhere else.
Today, I walked the streets of Buenos Aires and tried to see if catching anyone’s eye would make them see me. If they caught the shining of a tear escaping down my cheek, would they want to destroy the anonymity that separates us? Could they see me drowning in the flood of strangers hustling on the city sidewalks?
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112 & 999
112, 999, 110
112, 911, 999, 111, & 000
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