Lesson #32: Tranquila. Stop being so American, and learn to think like an Argentinian


On the metro in Buenos Aires. From the bustling Microcentro – picture Italy in the 80’s – I decide to head towards San Telmo – a Latin American Brooklyn of cobblestone streets, graffiti, and markets stocked with fur coats and sequined dresses. I approach the ticket booth, pay my fee, walk through the turnstile, step onto the escalator, and dazed and confused find myself back at street level, again in the land of cafes and medialunas.

This isn’t working, of that I am wildly aware. My brain too muddled to figure out such simple things as boarding the metro train before I exit the station.

My life has been a bit of a mess recently. Future plans suddenly derailed. Confused and directionless in a foreign country, far away from the comforts of home. Searching for the next step. Racking my brain, thinking myself into a stupor. I want a solution, a plan, a whole new direction to pursue. I want answers, and like a true American feel completely debilitated without them.

Back on the street I realize I need to do something I’ve never done before. I need to try something different.

I decide to go get a hair cut. A kind man with wispy white hair fluffs out my equally disheveled golden locks, frizzy and heavy around my face. I tell him that I only want a small trim to which he replies with a simple, ‘tranquila’ no worries. He is calm while he snips away my split ends and sun bleached curls. He asks if I am traveling and I tell him no, I tell him I am deciding if I should stay in Buenos Aires or leave, and that I am confused. Again he mumbles tranquila and then he giggles, he says to come back to see him in a week, that if the men don’t convince me to stay that something else will.

Tranquila. Don’t worry, live in the uncertainty and trust that things will work themselves out. Stop looking for answers because answers only come through living life. It was time to try a different approach, to put my American tendencies on the back burner and instead embrace the culture of Argentina.

Maybe the men will convince me to stay here, possibly the cheese and onion empanadas, or you never know maybe Messi himself will arrive with a reason for me to buckle down and make this country my own. What I am realizing though is that it will only be apparent with time. The future is not something that I can puzzle out today. For now the best thing I can do is drink some mate, take a stroll through the bosques de Palermo, and trust that the right thing will come along once I stop searching for the solution. Tranquila.