Posted by: Mo | March 23, 2011

Love after a few sights

What I think it comes down to is that I have a crush on Santiago. I can´t describe what it is about the place, but I can´t leave. I like just being around it. I can just walk around and pretend I´m hanging out with the Chileans. I have a crush on Santiago. There I said it. I´ll admit it. I have emotions. I have feelings. I can have feelings for something. I can´t come up with any other explanation for why I´ve been here for over two weeks and can´t seem to leave. I´m barely even hanging out with people. Just myself. Just ruminating. More and more and more. Maybe I don´t have a crush on Chile as much as an obsession with myself. I just like to indulge. But, I like to just walk around.

I was taking the bus back from Pucon and there was a couple, the man with one of those classic gaucho hats, smiling and waving to someone in the windows on the upper part of the bus. There was such happiness and affection there. Then the other day I was sitting in the park and a woman was sitting with her dog. And the smile she had whenever the dog came back to say hello was beautiful. Just pure affection. I was touched and I don´t even know her. Maybe this is all projection, but I like the sense of community that people seem to uphold here. When people recognize eachother on the street they say ¨Hello” and somtimes stop for a conversation. Everytime you go into a store or do anything someone says Good morning or Good afternoon. It is a polite formality, but just a beautiful recognition of humanity. I´m constantly having this outpouring of affection for random strangers. I don´t know what it is, but the observations are so fulfilling for me. I´ve been doing this everyday for almost 2 weeks now and somehow I´m not completely sick of it. And it´s opened up a whole spectrum of emotions I´ve tried to ignore or pretend I didn´t have. I suppose this is important. This has been the year of exploring how to cry again. I hadn´t done it in years and still have trouble admitting this vulnerability, but I´ve managed to let myself occasionally. I think this is all one aspect of trying to establish closer bonds with those that I love. With admitting that I have perfect contentment just being around people I love. That I don´t need more than that. And as I´ve been working with this I had a conversation with this Swede that was just right on point.

We started talking about the different structures of societies and how they gather their food. Hunter gatherers, herders, blah blah, blah. But hunter gatherers spend less time gathering food and shelter and thus have more time for socializing. There is this tribe or society in Bolivia that his professor spent time with. When asked what they wanted, the person responded that he wanted to sit by the fire with his friend. And that was enough. To be with the people that you love. That acquiring more money wasn´t necessary, or a huge house or being recognized as someone important in the world. That being a social being and connecting with people was important enough in and of itself. I´ve been thinking about this a lot in the last year. Just that creeping sense of isolation that seems so pervasive.

“For everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what some of all his efforts is not the fullness of life, but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self definition, they fall into complete isolation.” Dostoevsky

And I suppose this is something that I´ve been ruminating on a lot recently. I´ve spent almost 2 weeks in Santiago and haven´t really been socializing much. And I struggle with wondering if this is wrong. Or if I´m supposed to be doing something else with my travel. Whether just talking to myself is indulgent. I´ve been working a lot with avoiding boredom by just observing and appreciating the present moment. It may sound cheesy, but it´s also difficult. But a challenge I think I should take on. But, there is still that creeping worry that I´m supposed to be talking to people all the time. That that is the essence of travel: the interactions of different peoples thrown together. But, for some reason I haven´t felt like it. I suppose being in dorms and constantly being forced to be around people and all that I do observed makes me more inclined to want some privacy. Some anonymity. And also needing to depend on myself makes it harder to open up. Like there is some core that I need to maintain lest I just completely crumble. I had a breaking point the other day, but I´ve built myself back up. This is all an amazing experience and I like it, I think probably just talking to myself all the time brings forth more struggle than I would normally recognize. I´m able to analyze the many facets of all situations, so maybe I make it more complicated than it needs to be. Is there some perfect way to travel? Some model that I should be following? I was planning to go to this nearby city today and at the last minute decided I didn´t want to. So, again, I wondered if I´m doing something wrong. I didn´t want to leave. I didn´t want to go there, but felt it necessary out of some obligation. And was also trying to escape this guy who keeps talking to me. Another one of those projections of “I don´t know why, but I just want to know you better.” It seems like a line, but maybe it´s true. I hear it so much. And all the interactions so often seem predatory that I like to avoid them altogether. Maybe that´s why I´m happy being solitary. I can trust myself. Usually. Usually I try not to injure myself physically or mentally. The constant vigilance with travel can be tiresome. And even more so when you´re having to fend people off inside the makeshift “home” you create in a hostel. Just some privacy would be nice for once. Or just genuine niceness or compassion without other motives. But maybe being by myself is leading to unnecessary projections.

Because I don´t mind interaction, but I also don´t like feeling like I´m being forced. As though talking for the sake of talking is somehow better than being by yourself. What´s so wrong with this? Why does this have to be such a curiosity and something people need constantly to fix? I welcome people socializing and giving me the option, but my refusal isn´t necessarily just a negative rejection. As though I´m desperate for anything or too stuck up to talk to anyone. And, in come respects maybe I am a little stuck up. Because I don´t want to talk all the time to all people. Yes, that sounds arrogant. But, it´s easy to fatigue on the “where are you from?” conversation if the person isn´t all that funny. We´ve got to be able to have a smart ass exchange. I don´t know.

I´m too much in my head, so I´m probably making things more complicated. But I like Santiago. For some inexplicable reason. And it´s sucked me in. I´ve got to head North and see some more things. Head to Bolivia and see that. I´m just dragging my feet. Maybe part of it is out of fear. Who knows. We can´t really tell ourselves the things we´re not willing to reveal, can we?

Off I go to take some more pictures. Something I´ve been neglecting for a while. And then maybe I´ll buy a coloring book.


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