Saturday is date night in Buenos Aires, I've been told. A single girl at a milonga stands little chance of dancing. The Argentines only dance with their own ladies on date night, which means no wandering eyes to embrace others.
It is strange to not dance on Saturday night since that is the only night to tango in Orlando. Every Saturday, almost without fail, Matthew and I dress up and head to El Patio de la Morocha for the weekly milonga.
Last night, Matthew Skyped me as he was getting ready to go to the Patio solo and expressed regret that I wouldn't be with him. It made our hearts heavy, but I encouraged him to go and enjoy the dancing. It's the least I could do since he has been so supportive of me.
In June, just over a year ago, I started getting emails from an acquaintance I knew only casually from dancing at the Patio. Would I like to practice with him, he wondered. It made me nervous. I was still in the process of divorce and just getting over a dance partnership gone bad. He persisted and we became sort of pen pals.
In the midst of my chaotic life, I booked a three-day trip to New York City to dance tango with strangers. (If you can't get to Buenos Aires to tango, the next best place is NYC.) It was the first time I traveled alone to a destination that didn't have family or friends on the other end.
When I detailed the plan to my pen pal, Matthew, he expressed admiration and encouragement for my bravery in pursuing the NYC tango scene. "Enjoy your adventure. Intrepid tanguera," he wrote.
His words throughout my trip, and then after I returned home, gave me comfort and courage during one of the most difficult times in my life. That support continued as our relationship blossomed from pen pals to dance partners to committed couple.
Matthew breathed life into the dreams that I had in my head and helped create more aspirations for me than I thought possible. He spoke passionately about traveling the world. Of going to Buenos Aires to live. To learn Castellano. To tango any time of the day or night. To learn tango from the masters of our art. To dance with the milongueros whose hearts beat to the rhythms of Gardel and Di Sarli.
Now that our hearts and lives are so intertwined, my living this dream is bittersweet for both Matthew and me. Everyday I wish he was here, but the timing wasn’t right for him, and I needed to stop putting off what I should have done years ago. But he still encourages me everyday to enjoy the adventure.
My first week in Buenos Aires was in no way void of snags. I struggle with day-to-day communication with the locals. I lost my ATM card. I've been fighting the cold I always get when I travel to a new climate. I've confronted loneliness on a level I have never felt before.
But in spite of these obstacles, maybe because of these burdens, I have also experienced moments of sincere joy and happiness. I have been invited to dance by the dreamed-of Argentine milongueros. I am learning (slowly) to speak their language. I have been encouraged in my dancing abilities by teachers I admire. I have been inspired by the city itself—its people, its beauty, its spirit.
My happiest moment of the week, however, would have come whether I was in Buenos Aires or not. I became an aunt again. Mariella Joon was born on Monday morning to my brother, Richie and his wife, Stephanie. And in spite of being almost 5000 miles away, I was thrilled to be able to see her in action for the first time via Skype yesterday. She is beautiful.
My wish for her is that she will have big dreams for herself. That she will always know that she has people in her life that love and support her. That she will never underestimate what she is capable of. I hope she is able to pursue whatever passions and dreams she fancies.
Enjoy your adventure. Sweet baby girl.