Journey of Words

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Yes, I’m a writer. I know, I know–I haven’t been writing as much. For awhile, I wasn’t writing at all. I’ve been thinking about ancient history a lot this week. You know, memories down the lane. I’ve been doing some soul-searching, but not in a nostalgic sad kind of way. More in a way that’s helping me come to terms with some of my decisions about the past. And of course, some of this is ending up in my writing, because you know that’s what writers do. For some reason, these thoughts and the books I’ve been reading: The Last Time We Met, Less, The Princess Diarist, heck even Born a Crime, made me think I needed to set my book in Buenos Aires.

And it’s strange. I feel like I’m traveling there again in my mind. I went to Buenos Aires in 1999. I had just turned 20. This was almost 20 years ago (I’m getting old, peeps). Their currency was still tied to the dollar. Everything was super expensive. I had a astrophysicist cabbie who couldn’t get a job because unemployment was through the roof. I walked by a Jewish synagogue frequently that had armed guards, because there’s so much antisemitism in Buenos Aires they were afraid the synagogue would be bombed. I saw a guy on a bike get hit by a car, and then the driver get out and yell at him in Spanish for being in the way, while the pedestrian writhed in pain on the sidewalk by my feet. My friend P’s host family called their Doberman Pincher gay, because he was such a nice dog (I wasn’t appalled by their use of this word as derogatory then, as I surely would be now). He would sit on your lap whenever you came into the apartment, because he thought he was a lap dog. I would watch game shows and Spanish soap operas with English subtitles to learn more Spanish with my “sisters” Sol and Paz (the daughters of my host mother).

I saw a country in love with Evita Peron still. A country suffering but beautiful. The colors of La Boca. The market square. The pigeons. Luna Park and Jamiroquai. The mothers of the disaparecidos protesting in the street, still looking for their loved ones. A country where you could sit in the park and have yerba mate then risk your life at the hands of a cab driver (why do they make lanes anyway)? I saw how much family meant to Argentineans. Young women stayed home until they married. Even my crazy host family had their extended family over once a week. They laughed, drank, ate, and loved. A city that awoke no earlier than 10 and when to bed no earlier than midnight!

I think, now, experiences like these are wasted on the young. How I love to travel. How I wish to go back to Buenos Aires and see how it’s changed. Is there still a little cafe/bar on the corner of Manual Ugarte and Cabildo where I sat and talked to a boy I’d later fall hopelessly (emphasis on the hopeless) in love with until 2 AM? Where I sat with friends and tipped the waiters so big they looked forward to our arrival every evening? Is that place still there? What about the laundromat that would pick up and wash my clothes, fold them, and return them to me? I swore they were shrinking my clothes, but I was really just gaining about 30 pounds on empanadas, alfajores, and full fat milk.

Someone asked me over the weekend what type of books I wrote, and I didn’t know what to say. None. Half-finished books? Books about love and loss and unrequited love and abuse and family and women’s fiction and southern literature and maybe literary fiction. We love to categorize everything, but I feel like I get into my writing the most when I just do it without thinking about what it actually is. When is springs forth from some burning internal question I’m trying to answer.

Writing is a lot like traveling to me. I can go back to Buenos Aires. I can picture myself there. Transporting my characters to worlds I’ve been but also to places I’ve never been. An exercise in empathy. A way to answer unanswerable questions or at least get closer to explaining them to myself. But mostly just cathartic. A journey to a better understanding of the human existence, this universe we call home.

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Just Desert

Pun intended. Years ago, when I was just a college kid, I drove across country with my friend Jon and his sister Cass. We had gone to high school together, and we decided to go on this little adventure together. We stopped at Bryce Canyon in Utah. Utah has amazing scenery–so different from the greenery of the North, a lot red.

Thor's Hammer at Sunset

I  read about the desert. I just knew it was hot during the day and cold during the night. So we pitched our tent, and we went for a hike. Then we came back to our campsite, baking in the 100+ degree heat and complaining about it too. I told my friends it would get cold during the night, so we zipped up the tent and snuggled into our tents and baked like burritos, because the temperature never fell.  You see, even though it’s in the desert, the Bryce Canyon campground is at the bottom of the canyon, and it traps heat. I’ll admit it: I was wrong.

Today’s story, I wrote yesterday for Flash!Friday. The theme needed to revolve around a blunder, like the one I made in Bryce Canyon. And the photo was of a desert. And just a warning, there is some profanity in this post. I mean, I for one would be cursing up a storm if this happened to me!

Mirage
@laurenegreene
208 words

Bloody blunder that’s what it was. Bollocks. I could have sworn, I was signing up for a trip to Mount Desert, Maine. All-inclusive. When I showed up to the airport, I was surprised to see my plane was going to Africa. I mean, who doesn’t look at their tickets? Me, that’s who.

And now, here I am, running down a freaking hill for my life. And it’s hot, dreadfully. They’re chasing me, but they’ve fallen far behind. My marathon days have served me well.  I didn’t even know hills existed in Africa. Who invented this horrid place anyway? A sadistic god content on torching his fallen people, that’s who.

Thank God I packed extra water today. I stop for a minute, look behind me. There’s no trace of the errant tribe; I stumbled upon their sacrifice by mistake, but there’s no way I’m going to be their next victim.

I come to the bottom of the hill, and I’m surprised to see a road off in the distance. Blurry, weathered, but a road. And I hope to fucking God it leads me the hell out of here.

When I get out of this place, I’ll be content if I never see another grain of sand in my life.