I’ve been very into myself this entire trip. Taking in the holes filled with trash on the sidewalks, the smog in the sky, the silence of the Transmilenio bus, the taste of jugo de lulo – all the little parts that make up this city I’ve convinced myself I alone must absorb y conocer. With a greedy tongue and longing gaze, I’m taking this city in, sharing little with others close to me.
I’m at a coffee shop near my house right now. University students are here coding and staring out cafe windows, boyfriends are kissing sus novias with full-on amor, and I am observing, eating a plate of pasta. It’s like I asked, smothered in pesto, oil and mushrooms, with little garlic tostados on the side.
I haven’t been letting myself write, and I’m not sure why. I lull my time away at coffee shops and empanada bakeries, always sipping on aguas aromáticas, making lists and re-Tweeting the afternoon away. I strike up conversations with strangers, always hoping they might ignore the discrepancy between my gringa accent and piel de color cafe. I hope to find someone whom I can temporarily spew observations to, someone who will tell me about themselves, and will know and understand when I have nothing left to say. I’ve found myself excited to meet others here, but at the same time I must admit I intentionally misplace phone numbers, or skip a day trip to go to a random part of the city alone. I didn’t expect to enjoy solitude so, that I would so crave being solita y pensive. I am addicted to the feeling of being an anonymous body in a city of millions.
What troubles me is the thought of being an anonymous body walking past a certain other body, a body that gave me my own. Knowing my birth/natural/first/unknown mother lives in this city gives me a reason to search faces in a crowd. They do not know, but I am not just a people-watcher – I am a possible-mother watcher.
Still, I’m not quite sure if the reason this always comes to my mind when I’m in big spaces if I’m truly interested in meeting her, or if I just have little else to think about.
I’m trying to put myself out there more.
Last Friday, I got a Facebook message from a friend of a friend of a friend about a party going down in an unknown barrio cerca de mi apartamento.
My mistake was that I got there early. I found myself in a bohemian, artsy boarding house someone called the “underground of Bogota,” home to French girls with short bangs and a goateed guy from Alaska who manages an art gallery.
I stood next to the bar – the adult equivalent of the dessert table at a school dance – making conversation with the bartender from Armenia.
Party guests trickled in, coming in one-by-one and later, splattering in by the dozen. I said hello as they walked by, making inane comments about why I actually don’t mind aguardiente, the ubiquitous, oft-disdained cheap Colombian liquor. They always replied with an “Oh!” and told me that I needed to meet so-and-so, or go to so-and-so-‘s bar or restaurant or exhibit. I always told them I will.
The guy from Alaska told me he only “produces art,” he doesn’t create it. He lived in Vancouver for a bit, and then decided to up and move to Colombia.
“Vancouver’s like dating this beautiful woman,” he mumbled. “She’s so nice to look at, but so expensive.” He ended meaningfully, eliciting a laugh from a woman with a blond fauxhawk.
Of course, he had a sister who graduated from Dartmouth. And I was no longer the random Colombian-looking soul looking at people and charging her phone at the bar. I was a job-less college graduate, that “adopted Colombian girl trying to find her roots in a big city,” the wandering intruder, the girl who left all her friends and family hundreds of miles away. I could no longer listen, wonder and question – I had to participate. People crowded around me, the Ivy League girl, before filing away one by one as my stories about college proved dull, unrelatable and slightly bitter.
A couple of beers later, I left.
“Well, next time!” said the friend of a friend of a friend, who wore a metallic bandeau and matching shorts ala the party’s theme: the future.
I nodded, gave him a wave and called a taxi.
I like this act of spewing 500 or so words with a 30 minute deadline – it’s the precise mix of adrenaline and pleasure I’ve always craved. I’m listening to the same playlist of electronic, Adult Swim commercial interlude music that got me through the college essays I somehow “wrote” during overnight, chocolate-covered expresso bean binges. My goal is to write asi everyday for my last 17 days. I think it would be good to write about things I haven’t shared with anybody.