Last week, my first week here, I looked at several apartments, and my decision came down to two very different, equally great apartments in two Buenos Aires barrios that each have something to offer.
The rent was relatively equal between the two, so without a clear winner, I hemmed and hawed more than I ever have and made my decision at the very last minute on Saturday. I was supposed to be out of my Airbnb at noon, and around 12:30, as the cleaning lady was preparing for the next guest, I was still sitting on the bed making arrangements.
Like I said, it was incredibly last-minute. But it all worked out.
That afternoon, I moved into my new home, a one-bedroom apartment in Palermo Soho, and now that I’ve been here a few days, I know it was and is the best decision for me.
I’m renting the apartment month to month, so it’s certainly more flexible than a six-month commitment — that sense of freedom is important to me.
Palermo Soho is an active, artsy neighborhood, so I can walk out my front door and find cafes, restaurants and bars all within a block or two of my place. That accessibility is huge as I explore and get my feet on the ground here.
Perhaps the most important thing is that I really like the couple that owns my apartment. When I found this apartment on Airbnb, Sofia, the owner, had just listed it, so I sent her a message asking if she’d consider long-term rent at a discounted rate. She said yes, and we set up a time for me to see the apartment Thursday evening.
Sofia is kind and friendly. That first evening, she showed me the apartment, walked me around the neighborhood and drove me back to where I was temporarily staying. From our brief time together, I got the sense that she would look out for me here in Buenos Aires.
On Saturday, once I’d decided to rent the apartment, Sofia and her husband, Juan, picked me up from where I was staying and helped me move my bags to the apartment. Their kindness and availability has meant a lot to me, and it’s only week one.
Saturday afternoon, once Sofia and Juan had left, I set my things down and spent some time pacing around the apartment. The echoing hum of the refrigerator followed me.
I couldn’t believe this was it. This was where I was living … in Buenos Aires. In Argentina. In South America. Thousands of miles from my family, friends and everything familiar to me.
It was in that moment, as I walked around, getting acquainted with my new home and the silence of being alone, that I realized why the decision between the two apartments had been so tough for me.
My choice wasn’t about the apartments. It was about choosing a place to live in Buenos Aires. It was about realizing that I was committing myself, on some level, to Buenos Aires. I wasn’t choosing a place to travel to; I was choosing a place in which to live.
I’m starting 100% from scratch in a way I never have before, and that terrifies me — more than I ever thought it would.
As my thoughts and emotions started to get the best of me, I reminded myself that these things take time. Any move takes time, and this move, this is a big one. I have to go easy on myself. I have to be patient with myself.
One step at a time
Even though I didn’t want to, I unpacked. I started to settle in and make the apartment my home. I took my clothes from my suitcase and hung them in my closet. I believed physically moving in would help me move in mentally and emotionally. This was home, my new home.
I reminded myself that I knew this move was going to be a challenge; that was part of the reason for making this leap.
As I unpacked, I made a promise with myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If I can do that, it will get better with time.
I reminded myself that not everything will be solved and settled on day one — not even week one or month one. Moving takes time, so I need to give myself time. Time to explore and adjust. Time to walk around. Time to meet and talk with other people. Time to see, feel and understand Buenos Aires. Argentina. South America. I have to be patient with myself.
It’s not going to be perfect; it never is. It’s going to be hard. There are days I’m going to want to curl up in a ball, block out the reality of the situation and fly home. But this struggle is part of the experience, it’s part of my reason for being here and I believe I’ll come out stronger and better off in the end for having pushed through and overcome the challenges I’m facing now.
I’m not fearless, but I am brave and strong. Casey Neistat’s motto keeps playing through my thoughts: “Work hard. Be brave.” Right now, I’m focusing on the latter. The hard work will come, but for now, I need to be brave, take care of myself and, most importantly, enjoy what life here in Argentina has to offer. My goodness, it’s not every day I get to live in Argentina. The last thing I want to do is look back on my time here, however long it might be, and regret the way I spent it. I want to be intentional and act on the reasons I chose to move to Argentina — to challenge myself, learn Spanish and travel South America.
On the whole, week two has been better. I’ve been sleeping better, am spending time out and about a little more and spent time with people outside my apartment every day this week. Little by little, step by step, I’m finding my way.
This is quite the adventure, and when all is said and done, I feel fortunate to be here.
November 17, 2016