And just like that, in the blink of an eye, my time in Buenos Aires had come to an end. As I sat on the floor of my now-empty room leaning against the oversized suitcase into which I had just shoved the last of my mate and alfajores – the physical souvenirs that would be devoured long before I would be able to fully unpack the memories and lessons I’d be bringing home with me – I felt the tears begin to push up from behind my eyelids. They’d been there three days at least, the result of two weeks without sleep and the heart-wrenching knowledge that I’d be leaving this home sooner than I’d like. And then (whether from said lack of sleep or plain old emotional instability, call it what you like) I began to giggle to myself as my brain clued in to the remarkable symmetry with a moment I had experienced on a much warmer evening in March when I first arrived: lying there on the same floor beside the same unpacked suitcase, just as exhausted, the same army of tears threatening to push through but with a very different motive. Being the wanderluster that I am, I’ve never admitted how terrified and alone I felt that first night in Buenos Aires. In the weeks leading up to my trip I was giddy with excitement and consumed with preparations and packing – but in that moment in March in that empty room, I was suddenly unsure: I was jealous of my friends who were heading back to schools filled with familiar faces and well-established friendships, nervous to leave my comfortable routine, and afraid of the unknown. And five months felt like an awfully long time.
Of course, in just a few hours of orientation my nerves were replaced with giddy excitement once again as I began to explore my new home. And, as I quickly came to realize, five months is nothing. Because now here I am back in New York, speaking Spanish aloud to myself and waking up confused in the mornings, wishing to be back in Buenos Aires.