The Emotional Month of May
La Plata is a mini-metropolis that heaves beauty from crumbling ruins, halfway done buildings and cracked sidewalks. From the Bolivian grocers to the pink Laundromat, this lazy town I’ve called home for the past three weeks has held me upside-down and shaken me violently until all the coins were out of my pockets and on the floor.
I was reminded (again from the ever giving lands of Facebook) about the anniversary of my half-sisters death. Jess was killed in an horrific car accident in 2008 that also claimed the lives of two other kids in the car. She was only 18. The tragic part is that we had never met in person, only virtually, over Facebook, since our parents had a messy separation in the late 80s. Three days before our first scheduled coffee date, the aforementioned unthinkable happened. She was gone. I did meet her though, through the faces and hugs of her family and friends at the funeral some days later.
As a foreigner here in Argentina, I felt dislocated seeing Jess’ face pop up in my feed. I felt even worse when I realised I was mourning something I never had. It made me realise that there’s nothing more foreign that remembering what you never had. What’s even stranger is the accompanying feeling: ambivalence. I feel so strongly connected to someone I had never met and I believe it’s on a biological level that I feel her, something I like to call “The Genetic Pull”. Our shared genes tend to vibrate and bubble around this time of year, making me feel nauseated with a touch of brain fog, the clouds lowering and my concentrate waning from the minute I wake up. It’s a very humbling experience giving into your body as your brain slowly shuts down, refusing to focus for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s as if my brain shouts ‘BRAIN…OUT’, drops the mic, and walks off stage.
After surviving my first non-mum-Mother’s-Day, I had been looking forward to settling into a calm spell of art, reading and painting. For the most part, this has come to fruition, and as I enter my last week at Residencia Corazon, I can feel that bittersweet feeling of impending departure creeping its way back into my gut…or maybe it’s the endless bowls of papas fritas that has eroded my stomach lining? In either case, all adventures must come to an end and I welcome the beginning of June with open arms.
The emotional month of May has taught me the following lessons:
1. Tears, in any language, can always manifest free wine
2. Remembering a traumatic event is harder on the body than the mind
3. Apple crumble brings people together
4. Laziness is contagious
5. Art isn’t anecdote (thanks for that one Cheryl Strayed)
6. Things open when they open, and close when they close
7. People never die – your relationship with them morphs from the external to the internal, so you just have to make the room inside to welcome them in
8. Holding space for difficult emotions is more important than trying to cheer someone up
9. Bars in La Plata don’t open until 4am, if they even open at all
10. Time and space to think is more precious than any other gift