Fivehundredtwentyfivethousandsixhundred minutes. That’s that Rent song that talks about measuring a year and it has been on repeat in my head for the past couple of weeks.
So I’ve been celebrating my BA birthday lately. I arrived Good Friday of last year, just in time to celebrate Easter in my new home. I remember standing at a sunrise service in the park, wiping sleep out of my eyes, trying my hardest to memorize the names and faces of the folks around me.
This year I went to the same service again, greeted each one with an Argentine beso, having a complete deja vu experience, as if that service last year was the fuzzy dream version of this year’s Easter, where I know the parties involved, understand the sermon, and know the park far too well from far too many hours spent surveying there. All the while I stood marveling–knowing I should focus on Christ’s death and resurrection–but I couldn’t stop marveling at the passage of time. How slowly it can seem to creep by when I’m feeling lonely, but then how quickly it seems I have made myself at home here.
And then because Easter is one of those jump-around holidays, I actually celebrated my official one-year in Buenos Aires a few days later. Coincidentally I spent the first half of it at the airport, waiting on the other side of the security doors I wearily stumbled through 365 days prior. My parents were flying in to visit, and their trip just so happened to land on my BA birthday.
I had planned their trip out for them, hitting up some of my favorite spots in the city, as well as letting them meet some of my favorite people. And as I played tour guide and translator for the week, I realized: In one year, God has stitched this place to my heart. Barrio by barrio.
It hasn’t all been rainbows and bubbles. It has actually been pretty lonely. But after the initial honeymoon phase, followed by the delayed culture shock that hit around last September, something happened. I fell into real, committed, in-it-for-the-long-haul love for this city and the people in it. And I’m psyched to see what the next year here will bring.
I’m learning now more than ever that a happy life isn’t always an easy one. More often than not, happiness is found when you aren’t expecting it, when you’re struggling through one difficulty or another. Something insignificant like a BA birthday or a sunrise service makes you pause a moment, step back and realize . . . my life is good. And that a happy life is not one devoid of pain and burden, but one that makes room for them alongside the joy and rest so they may coexist.
In the next few weeks I’ll be posting a handful of posts about my struggles here on the field. The goal is to be transparent—not whiny—and to remind both myself and my friends who follow this blog that beauty, joy, and goodness can be found in the midst of the struggle rather than just at the end of it.
Stay tuned, folks!