I went down to Ituzaingo again.
It had been a while since I’d last taken that train ride west. First time since back when you lived with your parents in San Antonio De Padua in that quaint little maroon house. A stretch of land so different from hectic Buenos Aires it barely even seemed like part of the same country. We’d leave class together and talk about art and music and awkwardly hold hands after battling it out with the commuters circling around every seat like vultures. You had a boyfriend then, but it didn’t matter because it was winter. And we’d get to your front porch where your mom was always waiting with a thermos and some mate. And I’d tell you how in some ways this place reminded me of Barranquilla, with the Romanesque cathedrals and how quiet it got in the afternoon. And it wasn’t long before one of us would suggest bringing out the guitar and start exchanging songs. And you’d play me to sleep, elegant fingerpicking lying on your living room floor. That was the start of it.
And then you changed schools and we no longer had that daily rendezvous. That’s how I learned to ride the train, from Once station to Padua. I was always mad with expectation on my way over and sugarshot lovedrunk on my way back. And there’d always be music in my headphones. Brian Wilson, Weakerthans, Billie Holiday, Magnetic Fields, New Order, Andrew Bird. It’d always be something and it would always relate somehow, and I would be the only smiling face amidst the grumbling 7 AM commuters.
And then you moved to Buenos Aires and I had no need for a 45-minute train ride to see you. And then shortly after that we realized we were destroying each other and decided to go back to keeping it friendly and platonic. We didn’t see much of each other then. And I missed you. And I missed the train too.
I was happy to hear you were celebrating your birthday in Ituzaingo, which is a few miles east of your hometown. Not only that, but you’d be playing a show with your new band there. And I was thrilled to see you in your prime– rocking out like I knew you could, singing your heart out, basking in the cheer of the crowd like the superstar I always knew you were. And I meant it when I hugged you tight and whispered just how proud of you I was. And it felt like it did before, if only for a few seconds.
Things are different now. You have a boyfriend, I have unrequited crushes, a suitcase of phony wisdom to dispense and truckloads of stolen song imagery. But it felt like coming full circle– the physical contact that goes on for a little longer than it should, and the drunken goodbyes and the starry sky and the dew of rain. And nodding out in the train with the headphones on. That’s how I came to appreciate a good Morrissey ballad. That’s how Chet Baker won a place in my heart, singing sweetly into my ear over the clanging of the railroad, thrusting percussively underneath.