Remember the thrill of staying up late to watch SNL all the way through back during your early teen years? For whatever reason, one particular skit of host Sarah Michelle Gellar and the rest of the cast's take on the Spice Girls stuck with me through the...gulp...decades. In it, Chris Kattan's brilliant Scary Spice warns, "And keep ya bloody smallpox to yourself, mate!" The clip doesn't appear to live online, though I found a sister-PSA from the same episode on the dangers of arthritis HERE. During our endless (in a mostly good way) Remote Year orientation week, I offered up this sage wisdom in a group exercise in which we went through several iterations of creating our core values and social rules for the year. I was essentially trying to say that in our semi-incestuous, world-traveling hotbox of a 75-person coworking office, maybe we could all make an effort to stay at home if we were feeling under the weather.
The rule didn't make it to our top five, thought my suggestion of a 90-day rule against intra-Remote smooching seems to have made it all the way through to the end. Future Remotes, if you're one day reading this, respect the #threemonthbuffer. Already, the group chemistry is too overwhelmingly positive (if a little loud) to risk an early divorce and potential civil war.
All of this is to say that I am home sick today. And now that I am out of earshot of L and C (Te amo, chicas. En serio cheeee!) for the first time in a week, I have a moment, and a decibel level fit for self-reflection. You see, while all of my fellow Remotes are truly proof that sometimes God gives with both hands, some are louder than others. And that may be the first lesson learned on this trip. You don't gotta go to work, work, work, work, work, work, work. But you gotta do the work, work, work, work, work, work, work. And that's been harder for me than others, I think.
But here I am writing, and hopefully the block melts away with this first post, so I can prepare some invoices and cash some checks.
It is impossible that I've only been here — LIVED HERE!!! — in Argentina for a week. Each day has been at least 9-months pregnant with novelty and inspiration and excitement. The people of Córdoba are incredibly friendly and welcoming, perhaps unexposed to international tourism the way their brothers and sisters in Buenos Aires may be. As such, they don't seem to know yet that they are meant to be jaded in advance with American self-importance, and are genuinely excited to chat, to take photos, to compliment and greet us.
I live on a busy-ish street in the Nuevo Córdoba neighborhood, overlooking Parque Sarmiento. A ferris wheel designed by Gustav Eiffel, an enormous pool, and an amusement park are steps away from my apartment. The electricity dips in and out at times, and the internet in my apartment teases me with fits and spurts of connectivity. In the office though, it is fiiiiine.
My 15-minute walk each morning to the office, usually down San Lorenzo is straight out of the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast. As the shops and cafes open up for the day, Cordobese women mop the centuries-old tile sidewalks and greet me as I weave in and out of the street, attempting to not leave footprints in my wake. I stop for a cafe para llevar, which is served in a comically small styrofoam cup compared to the Nancy Botwin prop-sized coffees I am accustomed to back home.
The dogs. The dogs. The dogs. Los perros de la calle están en todas partes. Each sending hot needles of regret through my heart. Will Loki forgive me in a year's time? Por qué soñamos el uno del otro? Oof.
I've made friends. I'm almost surprised to admit that I've befriended more of my group already than I ever expected to in the year ahead. I don't know that I've ever had 70 friends before? This is unprecedented. When I hit three — in the form of the mayor's daughter from Vermont, the Texan Beyhive social chair, and the NYC fellow gay (Thank God) — I could have stopped there and still been a rich man when it comes to sharing this around-the-world experience with incredible company.
But then it kept happening again and again and again. I told someone on day one that I was here for sparks, and my goodness have I ever found them. I spent Saturday evening walking the streets with a television host, dinner on Thursday with a Tinder blogger, and some of my favorite moments so far with a magician who also has Burner roots (For the record, there appear to be three of us in total, so far).
For the first time in a long time, and after a year of faceplants and embarrassments and hardships and more humble pie than a person should ever have to stomach in a year, I feel...I feel...
I don't know yet, exactly. But it is different and new and welcome. And with a week of Argentinian living under my belt, that is enough. I'll figure out the rest eventually. Or I won't. We'll see.
No love has left me. And the beauty and warmth around me each day also sting when I realize that I am largely experiencing this all alone. But I hope that in — Ugh, I know — taking this journey for a year, that I will return home a better son, friend, dogfather, and husband.