zA voyage never fails to stir everything up inside of me so that when I’m back home, everything has settled back into its place, but in a slightly shifted way. I suppose that’s a rather inartful way of saying that you come back and see things differently.

I went to Argentina with my mom and my official position was that of wingman. I was there to help with heavy burdens, both luggage-wise and emotional. You see, my uncle, her brother, has melanoma and she (we) needed to see him. To say hello and then goodbye.

Maybe it’s because I was traveling with my mother alone, or maybe it’s because I was back in Argentina where I was born, or maybe it’s because we were there to spend time with someone we might not see again, but the time I spent there has a dream-like quality to me now. It’s as if the days had fuzzy edges, one bleeding into the next and although the time passed quickly, I have the sense that I was acutely aware of each bittersweet moment.

Strangely for me, I went into a zen-like state where I felt completely content to sit for hours in my uncle and aunt’s kitchen, drinking tea and chatting. Various members of my giant tribe would stop in to visit and I would sit (always in the spot nearest to my uncle) and listen. I had no agenda. There was nowhere else I needed to be. Nothing I needed to do.

I was there as a wingman. My job was simple. I made sure I could scoop up sadness where I saw it and tuck it away. I made sure I basked in my uncle’s kindness. I made sure I got a few beautiful pictures of the four siblings together when they happened to be in the same room. I took pictures of old pictures at my uncle’s house – that’s him with my aunt when they were itty bitty. Aren’t they cute? They met when my aunt was 13. Their’s was a love for the ages.

Argentines don’t mess around when it comes to conversation. We talked of faith and death, of health, of blessings, of family, of distance, of voyages, of politics, of so and so who knocked up so and so and acted like he didn’t know it until an intermediary told him he needed to check out the kid because it looked just like him and he did and it knocked his socks off and then he fell in love with and got married to the knocked-upee. They needed to catch my mother up on all that good old fashion juicy small town stuff. Oh, the stories.

My relatives are story-tellers and there is a certain Latin drama that runs through their tales making everything sound just a little bit magical to my Americanized sensibilities. There is something about this place and these people that resonates deep in me and I feel simultaneously very at home and yet very foreign. Dash saw this picture of me with my two cousins and one of their daughters and he said You can tell these are your people. You look like them. You fit with them.

I do.girls

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