Monday, December 16, 2013

Absoluto


The loss of someone very dear to me recently has gotten my mind wandering in directions where it's not ventured for an awfully long time, and somewhere in that endless loop of conscious and unconscious musing I've come to the conclusion that really the only proper way for me to process all this emotion is to try to place it all along a coherent line of thought and see if that helps. I used to love writing with a fervor that was almost consuming, so much so that some nights I had to force myself to stop and just go to bed, but for years now it's just been me staring at an empty page, wishing I could get back that love and near necessity for what used to be my greatest solace.

Writing is a tangible manifestation of thought generated in a language. But in a way it's also a language all its own, equal to all others in that if not practiced, the ability to use it properly simply slips to the recesses of memory, ever-further, until one day it simply ceases to exist at all. And so perhaps the best way to make sure I don't lose it altogether is just to force myself to sit down and write. Write about all those things which bear a second of pause, and all the things which may seem trivial and passing but that undoubtedly make up the fabric of life, of change, of the eternal march forward. Because indeed, nothing is absolutely; everything changes. But if it's ever possible to clutch a few of the pieces for even just a second longer, to appreciate for that moment what they mean in the larger scheme, then it's undoubtedly worth a try.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Los retratos de una vida.


“Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?”
- Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The In-Between.


After reaching the two-week mark, I'm starting to notice a slight shift in my perception of life here. While Santiago remains an immense, unconquered maze of new discovery, certain faces, places, and daily habits have started to become much more comfortable and familiar. But while the house has started to feel more like home and certain rituals have become routine, I feel this overwhelming sense that I am somehow living in the present while my heart is still so firmly attached to the past, as though I haven't necessarily embarked upon a new chapter of life here, but rather, that I've left and entire story unfinished and am now scrambling to begin another. I'm sure this is all just part of the process of acclimatization, that eventually things will begin to feel more normal but for now I seem to let my thoughts drift back home just a little too often. And if I try to concentrate on the here and now, I see only an obscure and dauntingly vast expanse of time ahead of me.

This is, of course, not to say that I haven't been enjoying myself here. Quite the contrary, in fact. I fill my days alone here with little excursions into the city, running, writing, reading in the shade of the apricot tree in the garden, working on my CV and drafting motivation letters, experimenting in the kitchen, and loosely sketching out plans for weekend trips to La Serena, Valparaiso, Mendoza and Buenos Aires. G and I also enjoy the occasional dinner out or drinks in the city with Sebastian & Co., have discovered that the best and cheapest coffee to be had is at the literary cafe in Parque Bustamante (definite favorite), and have a whole host of interesting things which we want to check out in the coming weeks, including the largest exhibition of Picasso prints in the world(!) in Providencia.

No, life is certainly good here. It's more than that, really. Maybe it's simply a question of letting my heart catch up, of not expecting too much too fast, of accepting certain inalienable truths. No one ever said this would be easy and the beginning is always the hardest part anyway. I just hope that the amazement and wonder with the new won't eventually wear off and leave me standing there watching my footprints disappearing in the sand behind me without being able to see the path ahead. Only time will tell, but I get the distinct feeling that, more than anything, it's going to be up to me.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Old faces, new places

I ventured down to Lastarria last night, which is a beautiful neighborhood near Universidad la Católica, to meet up with an old acquaintance from college for drinks. Jillian first came to the city on exchange back in 2008, fell in love with a Chilean boy and eventually made the jump across the Atlantic to start a new life here with him. She now works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as I'd hoped, has blossomed in her 2.5 years here into a savvy Santiaguina with lots of tips and insider knowledge on how to find ones way. We grabbed a table on the terrace of Casa Lastarria and poured our hearts out over cocktails, ceviche, empanadas and, in true Dutch style, patat met mayo. It was lovely, not only to see a familiar face here, but also to feel so open and relaxed with someone I'd never really spent all that much time with before. It felt like meeting up with a good friend that I'd simply lost track of for a few years.

Monumento Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (Barrio Lastarria).

It's a wonderful thing to be able to listen to impressions of a place from someone with a shared cultural vantage point. Putting experiences into context becomes a lot easier and it's also vaguely reassuring to know that certain perceptions were actually spot on and not just figments of my imagination borne out of insecurity.

For example, within the first days here I had noticed that Chileans seem to do a lot of staring. Not necessarily in the rude, leering sense of the word, but certainly allowing their gaze to rest upon you for extended (and sometimes uncomfortable) periods of time. Granted, I notice it a lot more when in the company of G, but then again a nearly 2-meter tall, blond, blue-eyed Dutchman seems to attract attention just about anywhere outside of northern Europe. But even without him in tow, I often find myself meeting eyes with someone in the metro or passing by on the street, only to lose the staring contest after a few seconds. I found it all a bit disconcerting in the beginning, as back in Amsterdam you basically have to stand on your head, naked and with a whistle in your mouth to draw even a casual second glance.

Las Primeras Impresiones


It's been just over a week now and we've seen, tasted, and experienced much more than we could have imagined before leaving. In fact, I can hardly believe that just 10 days ago, we were stuffing our belongings into boxes, tugging on our winter coats and running off to the post office in Amsterdam.

We arrived last Friday night after a 28-hour journey through Germany, the Dominican Republic and Panama and were greeted at the airport by Simon, G's new employer and the head of the new project he's going to be working on at OAN (el Observatorio Astronómico Nacional). He drove us right to our new place in Las Condes, which is a posh suburb in the north-east of Santiago. The house is situated at the foot of a hill known as Cerro Calán and hence just a 10 minute walk from the observatory. It's also enormous by any standard and even more so because it's just the two of us here, but we're very comfortable and have quickly gotten used to enjoying the use of our garden, the enormous terrace which gives us a beautiful view of the city, and the spacious living room complete with two big, soft couches which we usually crash onto at the end of the day and heave a sigh of contented exhaustion.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Abajo del Cielo Abierto

This is a city to be taken in sips, rather than the frantic, thirsty gulps it's sprawling massiveness and undeniable liveliness inspire. From the arid vistas and gated villas of Las Condes we wind our way slowly toward her center, stopping frequently for small, exotic treats and long pauses in the sun. Fresh ceviche from the market at Los Dominicos, sticky sweet mote con huesillos in the park near Santa Lucia, unfamiliar tastes that tantalize our tongues and sights that widen our eyes. On la Plaza de Armas it seems that life from all corners has congregated to while away the seemingly endless Saturday hours, to bask with utter reciprocity in the delicious simplicity of doing absolutely nothing. The purple of the flowers on the trees dances vibrantly against a deep azure blue sky while the sounds of music, laughter, clicking chess pieces and scattering pigeons fill the air. And all around it seems as though a thousand stories from either side of the Mapoche spin together to form this colorful, dissoluble tapestry that is Santiago. I close my eyes and inhale deeply, hoping to take even a fraction of this vitality into me, then exhale again and smile at the stunning, nearly inconceivable notion that this is home.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Dichotomy of Time

Forty-eight hours and it will all be over. Forty-eight hours until this waiting game that has lasted into the 6+ months becomes reality and ceases to be just simple speculation. The house is empty, the bags are packed, and yet the gravity of the situation simply won't seem to sink in as it should. I'm beginning to get the impression that the process of acceptance, mourning, rejoicing, or whatever one may call it, will only truly begin once I touch down in Santiago. My heart is racing, my palms are sweaty. I am filled with a thousand yards of apprehension and an overwhelming sense of calm at the same time. And I can't seem to figure out if what I should feel just now is fear, elation, or some incandescently sweet mixture of the two. I'd give anything at all to be there already, to know what lay in store and be able to brace accordingly, yet at the same time I welcome this sense of indecision as if I know that the hours, weeks, and months ahead will be so all-revealing that I will need every speck of energy to get through them. I have dreamed of this period, played out this scenario so often in my head that it already seems like a broken record, yet every thought, every fleeting emotion feels like such new territory, that I can't help but retract, retrace and rethink the entire process with every passing second. I suppose I will get there in time, but time seems so relative when it's being counted down as such.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened [...]

- T.S. Eliot

Until we meet again, my dearest Amsterdam.  Time be damned, I am sure as one could be that I will simply love you forever.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Por Casualidad

"I began to fantasize, once again, about this utopian era. I thought, without fully believing it, that everything must have been more beautiful and more intense, that it was worth it to live one's youth burning the candle at both ends, under a heavy sun that turned everything erotic, even the petrified rocks on the seaside." Ibiza. Henry Roy (Hobo Magazine).

Reminds me of Hawai'i. Or Camus's Nuptials in Tipasa. Great piece, excellent find!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Twenty-four.

Sometimes it seems that the most tragic thing in life is to miss someone that no longer is. Until you realize that the person may actually never have been at all.