Saturday, December 17, 2005

In Argentina, It Sounds Like Home and Looks Like England

November 16 – flight from Buenos Aires to Atlanta
It starts in an airport very far away. The flight leaves from Argentina but goes to Atlanta and the American voices flow towards me like a stiffening breeze in the Passport Control line.

They sound strange, almost like foreign accents. In the unfamiliarity of the American voices it feels I’ve been gone much much longer than a year. They sound familiar the way a relative’s face might look familiar if you were suffering from amnesia.

Its slow in hitting me still. When I left the hostel I felt nothing. When I spent my final hours with the Danish girls at their apartment I still felt little. I knew—I know—that I’m not comprehending what’s happening. I don’t get it yet. I’m on a plane in seat 20A and that’s what I do. It’s the 29th flight of my year. Number 30 from Atlanta to New York will be next. But they’re just names, they’re just more places to go because what I do is go to places.

There was a pleasant symmetry in my last day. Just before I went to the airport Lonnie and Tania set up a stool in their kitchen and started cutting my hair. Neither had ever done such a thing and it was indeed an adventure.

Before I left New York I got my hair cut at Bumble and Bumble and happily paid $130 for the honor. I paid the money because I wanted to and I could. And today I got my hair hacked up by a couple smiling Danes because I wanted to and I could. My point isn’t that its better to get free hair cuts from cute girls than to waste your money. I wasn’t wasting my money because it was something I wanted to do. But the pleasure of today’s cut—patchy and uneven but pretty decent for a first effort—was strangely similar to the fancy salon: I knew I was doing something vaguely irresponsible (in one case blowing money, in the other risking embarrassment) but that was kind of the point.

Tania decided she’d give me something of a David Beckham cut. Beckham may be the world’s most famous athlete but no one in America has heard of him. So they won’t get the reference implicit in the Nuevo-Mohawk, or recognize it as the quintessential young-Brit style.

On this flight to Atlanta when I accidentally kicked my seatmate’s bag, he told me “It’s okay.” I’m used to hearing “No worries.”

I’m used to hearing foreign accents and languages, of eating different food and crossing strange streets.

But the American voices are coming like a flood and the hair is already growing out. They're the voices of my friends and it is after all a Mohawk, so these might be things to celebrate. Skol? Brosht? Salud?

No. Cheers.


At 8:47 AM, Blogger karen said...

I love that symmetry about the haircut. They were like poignant bookends to your story.



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