Today is the beginning of a whole new phase in my great adventure. Tonight I will start welcoming guests from England to this city of tango dreams. Not all are coming especially to see me: some had holidays planned before I ever decided to travel; some are expecting to stay for a year or more; some are heading this way at this moment in time, in part, because I am here. I feel slightly strange.
On the one hand I am excited beyond words to see people I know from home, show them the places I love, help them to get the most out of their trips. Just to talk to an English person who knows me a little, who knows people I know, who can talk to me about the things back home… that will be amazing. On the other hand I am just getting used to the life I am carving out, and I wonder how things might change. I know my Argentine is slightly nervous. It is a strange moment when people from your lover’s past life start arriving. In a sense I and he have felt a greater freedom because I have had no-one here who knows me.
I did have one visitor early on, in fact he was here during the days when Carlos and I were still bumping into each other by chance at Milongas. He was with me when Carlos invited me for the first time to go on to La Viruta with him from Canning at 3.30am, for ‘cafe con leche y medialunas’! I can remember that he was slightly anxious about me heading off into the night with a stranger. I remember his concern and how it made me feel. I understood, but at the same time there is something liberating about not having concerned friends at your side. And back then I was in a moment where I was fighting for my independence, pushing my boundaries, learning to cope alone. I desperately needed to feel free. I wanted to escape from the concern of friends. Truthfully it was one reason why I left England.
When my husband left I needed my friends around me. They were wonderful. I could not have managed without their support. I am blessed with amazing friends and I will always be grateful for what they did for me. But there came a moment when I felt a burning need to break free from my status quo. I can never explain why I felt this but it was as if, in order to know who I was as an individual, I had to walk alone. I chose to do that by travelling to Argentina to dance tango. Perhaps my choices have seemed selfish, risky or at the very least slightly crazy. But I was 44 years old and for the first time in my life, ready to follow a dream. I have often hoped that it was possible for my friends to understand why I left, but maybe it isn’t always possible to completely understand something unless you have felt it too. I saw so much concern for me in the faces of people who love me but I had to shut it out because if their concern had become doubts in my head, I might never have stepped onto the plane. Then when I arrived here I knew that if I was to make a real go at starting a new life in a foreign land, I had to let go of England. If I kept my head and my heart back there, I could never truly be here. At times I longed for visitors, familiar faces, familiar voices. But I resolved lonely moments by getting out and exploring here, rather than talking with someone back home. It wasn’t always an easy choice but it was what I had to do to survive and grow.
I think that it has been exactly as it was meant to be that in the past six months no-one from England has come to visit. I have been given time to adjust, time to forge a new way of living that I love because I have had no-one to remind me of my old ways, my old life. Now I hope that I am sure enough in my path to welcome my visitors and greet my friends as the woman that I am now. I am not the same person that I was when I left England. And the number one change in me is that I am truly happy and at peace in the life that I am slowly creating. And surely that is something that I should be proud of and willing to share with anyone.
Incidentally, the painting above is outside a school in La Boca and you can see more gorgeous pictures of this barrio and of a park in Palermo taken by me this weekend. Just click on the link below: