My sleep-deprived eyes examined the city for one last time. They took in the gray buildings, scurrying traffic and Spanish billboards. My ears listened to the honking horns, rumbling trains and the porteño accent I had learned to love. And my mouth spoke the last porteño conversation I knew I would have.
I finally was headed to the airport after a day of frantically throwing clothes into suitcases, saying my goodbyes to close friends and trying to buy every Argentine product I could. I hugged my host mom and the lady who cleaned our house goodbye before I climbed into the taxi. The two women stood their waving, smiling and wishing me luck; a perfect goodbye almost like it came out of a movie.
And then my taxi roared up and was on its way. As I sat there chatting with my driver, I found it hard to believe I was actually leaving. After five long months of experiences that had challenged, frightened and excited me, I was finally headed home. I had thought of this day for a long time, wondering if I would be drastically different. Would the normal me be returning, or would some hippie version of myself be on her way back to Kentucky?
Whoever I had become, it hadn’t changed my excitement to return home, see my family and friends, and go back to my regular life. I knew I’d miss Buenos Aires, the big-city life and the language. I’d miss the awesome people I met, the friendships I’d formed and the places I’d seen. But I knew it was time for me to go.
After a 12-hour journey, I was welcomed home by my family and close friends. It was surreal to be back; I even forgot it was the Christmas season until I heard holiday music in the airport. Being back in America made me feel that the last five months were a dream. I kept asking myself if it really happened.
I arrived home the end of November, and now two months later, I’m sort of back to my normal life. I spent December catching up, visiting friends and spending time with family. We are in the process of moving and I finally got to visit our new home (which, my parents bought about a month after I moved to Buenos Aires). It’s in the country of central Kentucky and overlooks a beautiful lake, a place so quiet you can hear the wings flap on the turkey vultures that nest in the trees.
From a city of nearly 13 million to a small town of around 16,000, I’ve finally got my open air and quiet space. Occasionally, I do miss the big city; it was nice walking out my door to a grocery store or a short walk down the street to a bar. But mostly, I miss my friends and the wonderful people I met in Buenos Aires. I miss the culture and the Spanish. I miss not knowing what I was getting myself into everyday.
Though my time in Argentina does feel like a dream, I try to take some of its culture with me wherever I go. I’ve introduced mate to my friends and family (that didn’t go over too well), made delicious choripan and have brought cumbia music to our parties.
And just when I’ve started getting comfortable back home, I have had some great news that is about to change my life again. In just a few days, I’ll be moving to Washington, D.C. for a journalism internship with USA Today. This is an amazing opportunity, one I’m so lucky to get. So, once again I am off to another city, and at least this time I won’t be so far away.
DC, here I come.