Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mi Querido Buenos Aires

Walking into the airport last weekend, full of eager anticipation, I was immediately greeted by her strong porteño accent. I felt like bathing in the cool spray of her heavily-accented words, the hard break tide of ll’s and y’s, the wave-like expressions of “por allá” and “bárbaro,” the refreshing shower of Spanish spoke well and with flavour. At once I slipped back into the rhythm of the language like sliding in between the sheets of an ex-lover’s bed: a little tentatively at first, but reminded with each kiss and caress of a former familiarity, an earlier ease with lovemaking.
Upon leaving the airport, however, barely-contained excitement turned into brutal sock and bitter recoil. Skyscrapers towered above my head, traffic roared around me, and the hovering spectre of a Starbucks made its imposing presence felt. I realized that Buenos Aires had found a new lover: globalization. In my long absence, high-rises had sprung up, prices had soared, and international franchises had appeared. Taking one look at me, the natives bombarded me with English, the city’s new language of love, one that had never entered the bedroom during our relationship (Like any liberal-minded offspring of a conservative family, Buenos Aires always had trouble fully accepting the interracial nature of our relationship. I was always a little dark for her tastes and our friends often remarked with surprise at seeing us together).
I suppose that I had taken advantage of the city’s earlier naiveté, her cheap prices, global aspirations, and growing ego. I had assumed that she was young and innocent and had taken on the role of the older, more experienced partner. But instead of acting like a guide, I exploited her inexperience. I couldn’t help but inwardly sneer every time she peered up at me out of her young eyes, knowing that I’d have to pay so much more for the likes of her in Europe; fully aware that the tender caresses she eagerly showered upon me would only be obtained by diamond rings, dozens of roses, and humiliating grovelling at the feet of more sophisticated, much more experienced Europe.
In spite of this, it seemed that Buenos Aires had matured over the past few years. My darling girl had changed. She was more physically confident for one, charging for those flashes of skin and passionate kisses that she had been willing to give me for free. She had discovered her worth, how much money she could actually make by selling her body to the new, growing line of international clients, but had lost a bit of her soul in the process. Her elegant floor-length, black dresses had been replaced by gaudy, shimmery slip-ons that barely covered her thighs.
At first I didn’t recognize this ripe, full-bodied woman as my teenage sweetheart. The stench of the perfume that she’d taken to wearing and her shiny skin revolted me, and her empty promises, her meaningless flirtations left me unsatisfied. I made up my mind to keep up my distance (I had spent too long mourning our last relationship, for months I cried out for her at night. Like any first love, she was impossible to forget and I couldn’t help but compare every following lover to her), but I quickly discovered that she had learnt new tricks along the way, tricks that left me hungry for more. I gorged myself on every form of pleasure she had to offer, every succulent morsel, every tantalizing embrace. I make myself sick by my overindulgence, but I can’t slow down, I can’t control myself. She humours me for now; we both know that this tryst will only last until the end of this week.
Still, it’s not enough. I want her for the long haul, I want to take possession of her; I don’t want to share her with anyone else. I know I should cherish the little time we have together, but with every passing minute I can only cling to her more desperately. I came crawling on my knees, begging her to take me back, but she no longer has a place for me. Besides, business has been so good that I just can’t afford her (It took me a while to find out that she’s still living in that dilapidated apartment that she can barely afford, with its sky-high rent and the constantly rising prices. She’s afraid that her beauty won’t last and is trying to earn as much as possible now, even if she ruins her health in the process). So I make the most of our few days together, dreading the moment when I will have to leave her again. Despite the distance and the years separating us, she will live on in my memories and my heart. We both know that she will forever remain, Buenos Aires, mi querido.


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