Hola to the dear city that I’ve spent the last year with,
Wow, has it been a year since we have been together? Time flies, it really does. In the blink of an eye, I will be packing my bags and trotting to new territories, leaving you and a ton of great memories behind.
At this very moment, I feel like my heart is thrown into the washing machine that is spinning with a mixed bag of emotions. I’m a little sad, confused, nostalgic, hopeful, grateful, all rolled into one. In fact, I’m at a loss to how I should start writing you my message of love and gratitude since I have a zillion and one thoughts darting through my head now.
For a start, I’ve never liked penning farewell letters. In fact, I hate it. They always make me feel overtly sentimental and unnecessarily sad, because they make the imminent departures real. Although they always say that a farewell is never truly a farewell and endings are never truly endings, we all know that a moment can never be fully replicated or relived. To all extents, this chapter of our lives will have to close before new ones can open.
Then again, there is an indescribable beauty in writing heartfelt letters, especially ones that honour the time we have spent together and celebrate the experiences we have shared in unity. It’s no secret that I have always valued honesty despite the vulnerability, authenticity over pretenses. And because you have given and taught me so much more than I can ever imagine, I choose to spend this rainy afternoon plonking myself down at the kitchen table pouring my heart out to you. Just because I have so much to thank you for, just because I want you to know.
People always say that love is unexplainable and illogical. To that, I can definitely verify. Years ago as a young and impressionable 18-year-old teenage girl, my eyes landed specifically on you when I was curiously scanning the world map and daydreaming how the universe out there was like. I promptly read about your stories, your cultures, your myths and your ways of being. I even had friends who spoke to me about you (I know, what are the odds? I mean, you are so crazy far away from where I was living then).
For or against me, I had always held true to the spirit of pure, young and irrational love. I told myself then that I was going to make my way to you one day. I had no idea what you could bring to me, I had no idea why I felt the way I did. The thing is, I would probably never know until I actually make my way to you.
Of course, I took a big detour to reach you almost 2 decades later. I was distracted, lured by other lofty ideals and was experimenting with other things I had encountered along the way. But you know what they say about love? You can’t fight it. The universe sends it to us time and again, and we eventually accept what we are meant to embrace. Many moons later, I found myself finally in your arms.
When I first got here, I had no idea what you could or would give to me. I let things happen and quickly fell into your whirlpool of offerings. And you, indeed, gave me an unforgettable mishmash of experiences – lessons of love, sorrow, joy, grief, etc, all intrinsically juxtaposed into one big bowl of rojak. You taught me to love, to laugh and of course to cry (buckets!!) In essence, you taught me what it is like to live life day after day, savouring what it is like to be human.
One of the biggest reasons why my stay with you for the last year has been so invaluable is because you taught me so much about people, love and relationships. You graced me with memorable chanced encounters, all of which have one way or the other helped me redefine what loving bravely means. In this journey, I am slowly beginning to understand how love can perhaps, truly exist with no expectations. How love can perhaps, truly be unconditional. How love can sometimes mean drawing boundaries. And how love can sometimes be painful now because it contributes to a bigger ideal down the road.
I am still learning, but you have given me so much courage to bravely love in the manner I believe.
Not surprisingly, I have met people who have stirred my heart in one way or another. Some stayed and the relationships strengthened. Others came, lit up certain days in my life and departed for one reason or another. I used to feel really heartbroken when people I treasured had to go. But I’ve learnt that when we truly love someone, it’s not just about our journeys, but also about theirs too.
We might have had created an adventure together, but we were not ready for each other yet. Love is not just about possessing. Love is also about letting you go.
A lot of older relationships got redefined too. Similarly, some people stayed while others went. Beyond the pale aching heartache, I remind myself that their journeys are important as mine – it’s not just for me, but also for them.
However, the biggest relationship I’ve learnt to embrace and be in with is indisputably myself. I am finally beginning to learn what loving myself means, what taking good care of myself is, how drawing boundaries is not a sign of selfishness but self-love. How not to let historical pains of abandonment and doubts of self-worth dictate the choices I make today, how to keep risking and reminding myself to remain vulnerable going for what I want in life. Day after day, I remind myself to live fully in the present embracing all of the person I am at every single moment. It is a constant choice I make and having that choice is beautifully empowering.
Beyond all that, nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace the biggest gift you have bestowed me by far. Centuries ago, you created a beautiful dance through bleakness, poverty and hope in the ports of your city and promptly called it Tango. Today, I got the privilege to catch a peek and learn what it is like to live life dancing through the eyes and spirit of Tango. To embrace the sense of vulnerability, to connect with a complete stranger, to be open in our hearts and emotions, to keep dancing even if things aren’t going the way we intend for them to be.
Through Tango, you gave me a big slice of your heart and soul.
Through Tango, you taught me to live and love through life’s unavoidable ups and downs.
Through Tango, you taught me how to waltz through my days in the most dignified and elegant manner, regardless of circumstances and situations.
Through Tango, you have taught me about strength and vulnerability, about connecting and letting go.
You see, I have always been the quintessential (secret) romantic. I still love fairy tales and happy endings (Who doesn’t? And if you don’t, my dear, life doesn’t have to be so bleak. Why don’t you give yourself a chance and trust that happiness is your calling?)
Through dancing, you have taught me how to embrace my insecurities and to accept me for being me. Through dancing, you have also taught me how to respect people who are willing to display both their strengths and fragility – it takes so much courage to remain delicate in a sea of unpredictable conditions. Their willingness to show that they are human and aren’t omnipotent captivate me.
Oh, and you also taught me how to trust. Wow, I don’t even know where to start for this. You have taught me how to trust so much. Granted, you have taught me when to be careful but it’s never about losing trust. Trust is a choice. If we choose to trust, there is nothing else to fret.
I guess you have taught me that despite the trepidations we have met and will definitely still experience in time to come, embracing what we truly believe about the world we are in and people around us are all that matter.
Buenos Aires, you have very unexpectedly taught me about faith, hope and the beauty of humanity. You reminded me how much stronger than we think we are, and how letting go of the fear of losing liberates us to fly.
One of my closest friend whom I affectionately call as Buddy (yes my dear Brenda, hi if you are reading this), has this quote from Mother Teresa as her favourite:
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
I think I am beginning to understand its essence. Vulnerability and strength can co-exist.
More importantly, we have made the choice that we will rather be vulnerable than be broken.
To the dear city who has nourished me to the woman I am today, trust that I will miss you very much. At the same time, you also know that I will be back to you one day; I just don’t know when yet. But we stay close in hearts and trust that the day will come.
Till the next time we meet, stay loving, resilient, fragile and classy. You will always have that special place in my heart, and I will always be saving my love for you.
Te doy mucho amor, abrazos y besos. Voy a extrañarte, muchissimo ❤