Three weeks deep into Remote Year, and one classic reality television trope is coming to fruition, even as a second has proven to be completely wrong. First, people have stopped being polite, and have started getting real.
Which isn't to suggest that we're all squabbling, spitting on one another and ripping each other's hair out like the ladies from Flavor of Love. The change in chemistry is more delicate than that. It's more like we've all stopped presenting ourselves to one another as idealistic Instagram filtered versions of ourselves.
Nobody has pulled off their human costume to reveal a lizard person underneath it all. (At least not that I've seen.) It's more that people have settled into their Argentine lives and turned off their Valencia and Ludwig, and are now just being themselves. The change is significant.
Frankly, it can be terrifying. Imagine being comfortable enough with 75 ridiculously attractive, globetrotting professionals at the height of their life experiences to finally crack a boozy joke, but not truly knowing any of them well enough to predict how it will land. Did I describe myself as "a sexual nexus" to someone in the group after a few glasses of wine and a shot of whiskey while out at a bar on Thursday? Well, yeah. But would I do it again? (Well, I just did. So there.)
I wish I could be indifferent to the delicate differences between each day's group chemistry, and just bumble my way through the week, caveman-style. But I have all these feeeelings, and I can't turn off my reception of everyone else's either. Your hangover is my hangover, even when I stayed in last night to do laundry and reset my internet every 7 minutes while trying to stream House of Cards. #empathlife
Is it still the best thing ever? Well duh. That's where the inverse of the second trope comes in. These women and men I spend my days with here in South America, well, THEY'RE HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS.
This week: I ate empanadas with my new professional coach. (I honestly am willing to put my trust in the hands of anyone with hair as good as hers.) I threw my second dinner party. I rented a car with two Australians, a Californian and a sassy little minx from Pittsburgh with a Keystone State logo ring. We got pulled over by the policia just outside of the city borders and talked our way out of a ticket IN SPANISH.
We visited a German pedestrian-only village in the heart of the Argentine sierras, and hiked a mountain to discover a waterfall. When we sat down to snack on salamis in the misty spray of the waterfall, did I sing the theme song to The Hills to the group? Of course I did. Come on now. Feel the rain on your skin, y'all.
For what it's worth, this song came on at 2am the January night that we packed up our New Orleans life into our tiny car and headed to Texas, where everything but our new apartment would be presumably bigger. With Nick passed out in the passenger seat beside me, and Loki on his lap, I whisper-sang along as the green, pink and purple Dallas skyline came into view on the horizon. I thought I had a year of brisket and whiskey and valet parking ahead of me. It would have been enough.
But this...THIS? Well, I couldn't have known. I couldn't have known.