Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Expat in Argentina: One Year Later

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One Year Ago: me with my spouse

A year’s gone by since I left the U.S. to come live in Argentina. In these twelve months I’ve seen the good and the bad, and experienced so much. I’ve found myself both fascinated and annoyed by this culture’s way of life. In some ways, Argentina is similar to life in the States, but in other ways they are worlds apart.

Although life has managed to drag me in all sorts of direction since birth, I’ve never been very good at adapting to changes. I was reluctant to come to Argentina because I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for me to adapt to Argentinian culture. Ultimately, I didn’t have a choice but to come here.
I’ve always known that you have to do what’s best for the people you love. My spouse needed a change. He’s been through a rough couple of years and I’ve seen how much that’s changed him. What’s more, coming to Argentina gave me the opportunity to provide us with a stable roof over our heads and a chance to experience a new culture, but it’s been rough … on me.
In the last year I’ve learned that the laws, customs, and values are quite different from what I was used to in the United States. I find myself clashing with everyone. Just recently I almost came to blows with someone at the public hospital because they felt that their condition took priority over my spouse’s and wanted to cut us in line. At the University of Cordoba, I attempted to find more information on the different career programs, but I couldn’t find a single person who could offer any kind of constructive advice. As far as the job search is concerned, I still can’t find a job. They laugh at anyone over the age of 25 looking to apply for a job at a bank, an office, a convenience store, a Wal-Mart or a McDonald’s. Age and gender discrimination is legal here and it sucks! I’ve found that the best job offers are in the capital of Buenos Aires. So you’re probably asking yourself, “Why don’t you move there?” There are things that tie me to Cordoba … at least for now.
The more time passes, the more disconnected I feel from my old life in the United States and the traditions I’ve learned to value and cherish. The only thing that could possibly bring me comfort is the realization that I’m adapting and integrating into my new life in Argentina … but I’d be lying if I told you this was true. I’m a man out of place. It feels as if some great force has shoved me out of time and space. I’m trapped in a limbo that I can’t get out of. I’m neither here nor there.  I don’t know who I am here or whether I’ll ever be able to fully embrace my life in Argentina.



The few things that actually brought me comfort are starting to slip away. My dream of becoming a successful writer is virtually dead. I have no one rooting for me to succeed. Everyone here says my writing is simply a hobby that I shouldn’t invest much time in. That’s probably because people in Argentina don’t seem to have dreams. Everyone’s lives are already laid out for them. You grow up. You find a job at a young age and stick with it till you retire. You have a family. You retire. You die. Dreams are irrelevant.
I’m also at that age where I know I’m going to start losing people sooner rather than later. My father’s mind is starting to go. My mother doesn’t notice it or maybe she refuses to notice it, but I see it. Although he and I have never been able to have a civilized conversation without screaming at each other, I don’t know if I’m ready to not have him in my life. Health wise, my mother’s been having respiratory problems, but the doctors are having difficulties pinpointing what is wrong with her. Despite this, I think she’s probably got another twenty years left in her. Most of my cousins, who never left Argentina, have their own lives and their own problems. Worrying about me is not a priority and as a hurtful as that sounds, it makes sense.  I never grew up here. I’m a foreigner and a perfect stranger to them. They owe me nothing.
Then there’s my spouse. Recently, he had a health scare. A trauma surgeon mistook a growth in his hand for Cancer. In 2008, his grandparents and father died of Cancer. Seeing as to how his dad died so young made us come to terms with the possibility that my spouse’s expiration date might be sixteen years from now, relatively the same age his dad was when he passed. Fortunately, the diagnosis was incorrect. My spouse dodged the Cancer bullet for the second time in the last two years.  One thing that I’m sure of is that I don’t think I could handle living here if I lost my spouse.
One Year Later: me with my spouse
Alright! So this wasn’t the bubbly one year expat blog entry I intended to write, but at least it’s honest. I owe that much to those of you who follow my blog. What will year two bring? Oh, I hope it comes with a job, new adventures, new opportunities, new friends, and THE LIFE I SO DESPERATELY NEED RIGHT NOW!
Oh … and me losing ten pounds wouldn’t hurt either. I’m just saying.

2 comments:

  1. Argentina must still be celebrating the fact that they provided Catholics with a Pope who is turning the church upside down. Let's hope the dark forces allow him to continue on his revolutionary way.

    Enjoy Argentina - your new home - and know we all miss and care for you both.

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    Replies
    1. Argentinians are relishing in the notion that the new Pope is from Argentina. I give them props for being so proud.

      We miss you guys very much and hope to some day see you all again soon.

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