So, I’m going to be really honest with you. I have been dreading this blog post. Partially because there is so much to say. And also because here in Chile, it feels like my real life, not like the trip I took before junior year to teach English in El Salvador and have a spiritual awakening. I’ve pretty much always been a private person (my mom will tell you this, with much frustration). There are things that I only tell people at 4am when the inhibitions fly out to greet the sun as it emerges and the words tumble out with a flutter of my heart. Chile feels like something I want to save for 4am, something I don’t want to break with retelling, mar with the scuffles of misremembering. I want to remember exactly how it feels to walk down Avenida Pedro Montt where sometimes it smells like dog piss and fish, but always like people selling hand-knit hats and copious amounts of public transportation and self-confident colors. I want to remember the houses like a stained glass mirror, reflecting the rainbow sunset back onto the rolling pacific. I want to remember what if feels like to stand on a cliff at the edge of the bay and fall into the wind like a seagull, hovering with my arms outstretched, fingertips quivering trying to catch every gust in delight. I am scared that if I write about it, the experience will turn into something that I can only remember by revisiting my own words, and those words won’t be able to bring me back. Won’t be true enough. Bright enough. Enough like the houses of Butterfly Hill that say hello to me every morning. So I’m scared about that.
I’m also scared about turning other people’s stories into my own. Maria Alicia and Juan are my host parents. They are my family here. They have trusted me with personal stories that don’t seem the type to tell every stray being that flits by. Their stories, through the telling, become part of my story. Their house is my house for these next 5 months. We have gone from being complete strangers to living in an astonishing level of intimacy in only a week. And while I am their ‘hija’ here, there is much story of theirs that I don’t belong to. I need to be present with that.
But it’s not just them whose story I risk appropriating, it’s also my own. This is where I come home at night and drink my tea, take my showers, turn on my electric blanket, write in my journal, eat my illicit midnight snacks, talk to my friends on Skype, worry about making friends, put lotion on my face. The face I show the internet is not the same face that sits across from Maria Alicia and Juan at the table for ‘onces’ or looks back at me in the mirror while brushing its teeth. I’m not sure what I’m comfortable sharing.
So, I am going to do what I did to get myself started journaling this year (which was really a lifesaver, trust me). I am going to set some very easy-to-comply-with ground rules for my blog posts about Chile. And then I am going to stick with them. Because gosh darn it, this whole mental block thing is really starting to be a thorn in my side!
Everything I say will be true for me and the world I see in the moment that I write it. It probably won’t be the whole picture. I’ll do what I can. I can vouch for no more.
I will not tell everything that happens to me. That’s boring to write and pointless to read.
Every week I will record at least 30 minutes worth of spewed brain output and send them into the netsphere.
Ok. That’s my contract. I know I also promised more stuff on El Salvador. I am going to see what I can do. But every minute I spend typing I am not really present in Chile. And I fucking love Chile. This is also why I am super bad about emails. Please don’t take it personally.
|this is part of how I want to remember myself here|
P.S. For more pictures, check out the Google+ photo album. It’s got a much more up-to-date overview of my activities here.