You take away the mountains and the rough country roads, you take away the ancient buses with black plumes of smoke billowing behind, and you take away the expectation that every day will bring something totally new and unexpected. I wake up and it's all according to a plan now. This is a big city, but it follows some sort of pattern. So I have my routine and not much else changes that, though I eyeball it on a week by week basis.
Living in Ecuador, there was always something different happening that I wasn't used to. A random parade through the street and fireworks being set off for a different saint every other day. A random 5 day weekend. Roads blocked because of protests. They added a spice to life that made things like television and Internet unnecessary. Life was far more entertaining. I didn't have a chance to keep up with football or baseball last season, and while I missed watching the games, I didn't think about it much. I went about my business on Sunday as usual, and I would be happy if I heard the Patriots won, but I wasn't surrounded by the need to care.
Before coming to Argentina, though, I got Slingbox. Slingbox is a wonder of the Internet, allowing you to watch cable TV from back home anywhere in the world with a solid connection. I complain about it a lot because it's not perfect. It comes in pixilated and disconnects from time to time, but just when I start to get aggravated I remind myself that I could also have nothing. So occasionally I miss a touchdown, but I also get to watch the game. It's a trade off.
Today is a bye week for the Patriots, and I'm disappointed. I have gotten really into this season because I have the ability to watch, and it gives me something to do on Sunday afternoons alone in the apartment, whereas last year I pained away during the weekends, unsure of what to do in the beginning of the year. I have put myself into the routine of watching football, and I wonder how far away I am from where I was last year. It's an awful day, otherwise I would have taken full advantage of the free day and gone to the park. But it's still just a city.
In Ecuador I didn't need a TV because I would walk outside and see mountains that blew my mind. After a while I got jaded to it and didn't even bat my eyes, winding through mountains that I grew tired of using trite adjectives for, so I simply started saying they were "mountnanimous." That's my word, but you can use it. There aren't any mountains in Buenos Aires, and maybe that's why I'm more interested in watching TV. Mountains captivate my imagination, but I never knew this, growing up on the east coast. It turns out I should have been a mountain man living in the wilderness of the Rockies.
So if you take away the mountains and the high altitude, take away the fact that reality, as Mark Twain said, is stranger than fiction, then you're bound to look for other things to entertain you. I live sort of an interesting life. At work I would appear to be young and successful, at a prominent company, wearing business appropriate clothes. What kind of yuppie have I become? But at home I'm a bohemian. We have no couch. I sit on cushions on the floor, and I constantly think about the crappy situation I'm in. Too broke, not eating well enough, working too hard, etc, etc. A phony in both worlds, I'm simply living as myself. Just as I'll never truly be a yuppie, I'll never be a real bohemian writer either.
When I used to look at the mountains my mind would wander off into a thousand different stories, ideas, movies, whatever. They released imagination that a cracked city can't. I was a well respected writer, walking down the street in the Village in New York, dropping in to a cafe, writing a new story, going to a rooftop party and being well respected for the words that entertained so many, but I was humble and that's what made it cool. Yet that was all in my head, and where it will remain, as just a dream. Because I'll never be quarterback for the Patriots either, but it's a dream that I like to think of from time to time. And that's why you have the dreams in the first place.
No more mountains though, just the rainy day, sans the football game to keep me occupied. Hence the blogging. Still, I'll dream of the mountains and hope that the inspiration comes back in another way. So I'll always be that writer.
Above: Mountnanimous defined