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Woe is me

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What a shitty, shitty, shitty day.

Screw rigour. I am not going to try to find any little pearl of wisdom, universal theme or thread of deep thought in all of this. I am not going to worry about boring my mysterious readers (who are you guys, anyways?) Do come back for another post, another day. But now I am just going to describe the shittiness of my day. And I probably won't even do it justice, because it is really shitty.

I lost my bag. My BAG. It is gone, gone, gone. I want to cry and carry on for a little while, rather than accept it and put it into that odious "perspective": at least we are all healthy, blah blah blah.

Macondo Papa wishes that I would stop, that I would get over it, that the kids shouldn't see me like this. Well kids, it's time that you learned this: when I'm not on auto-drive, in patience-infused mama-land, I Cry A Lot. Not always this gushing, sobbing kind of crying, but tears and wobbly-voice make very regular appearances in my life. So there you go.

Right now, I don't want to have to do one single thing more for anyone other than myself. And all I want to do for myself is to feel sorry for myself for a little while, since I can't do anything else.* Boo hoo hoo.
(*I tried to hang on to all these feelings long enough to get this blog post written before life took over, but no luck. It's already two days later. I still feel sorry for myself, but not with quite the same passion as before. Macondo Papa made me some freshly squeezed orange juice. I squeezed in a nap at some point. The monster wanted to play "something fun like 'dance teacher' or 'shark'" to make me feel better.)

On Monday night, the 15-month-old monkey and I got on another overnight bus to Buenos Aires.

Why do we take these trips every two months or so? Ah, the wierd, random details of my life. To take advantage of the last drops of the best health insurance coverage I will probably ever have in my life, just before we left Canada I got invisible braces. Check them out, they're cool. And they were free, covered by my benefits package. But I have to follow up every now and then with a certified, invisible-braces orthodontist. There are only four in Argentina, and they are all in Buenos Aires.

So, yes, I've been taking 12-hour bus rides with my toddler every two months to visit the orthodontist. Anyways...

While these trips are exhausting and expensive, it is also nice to get to Buenos Aires every now and then. I watch people, I go bra shopping, I browse book stores, I eat empanadas. I soak in the big city. I contrast my beach and my alligators and my bizarre Macondo anecdotes and encounters with the beauty and insanity and noise of Buenos Aires, and my brain has some stuff to chew on and some perspective to glean for a while.


The post I would have written, had I not LOST MY BAG, would have been about these impressions that I gather, and about the luxuries I indulge in (eating empanadas, buying the latest Le Monde Diplomatique, walking along Corrientes Avenue).

I also would have written about the incredible amount of work that it is to travel alone with a little one. And how well I pull it off.

But now I am writing a post about how hard I worked on this trip, how exhausting it was, how good I felt about how I had managed it all, and how I managed to completely fuck it all up and make it completely meaningless and pointless and just a gigantic pain in the ass.


First, I must credit the monkey - he is an excellent traveller, so I fully appreciate that it could have been a lot harder.

If this were that other post that I was going to write, I would tell you about how he slept, he didn't get sick, he didn't poo anywhere inconvenient, he smiled and waved at all the right people, at all the right times. He let me carry him around in the sling for endless hours, with only minor and occasional complaints.

But still.

Twelve hours on a bus with an energetic little dude takes a lot of energy and a big bag of tricks. Offering our unused champagne cup as a new toy at just the right time; a fun game of fingers crawling on the window instead of eating my dinner; a concerted effort to not have to use the bathroom for the entire trip, because it would just be way too complicated. And booby all night long.

Then lug baby, suitcase and bag (oh, my BAG) through the bus terminal, walk several blocks to the subway station, take two subways, walk several blocks, and get to hostel. Now, if you can, imagine what you think that might all look like in Buenos Aires, with noise, crowds, broken sidewalks, and less-than-convenient subway transfer points.

Now, fill two full days with the following ingredients:
- a one hour bus ride there and back to the orthodontist
- a visit with the orthodontist with toddler on my lap, keeping him out of her box of old toothbrushes (why does she have such a box?)
- some play time and exploring time in our hostel, which is absolutely lovely but not without some scary-looking electrical outlets, a breakable-looking stereo system, a few irresistible stairs to practice endlessly on, other people's rooms to break into, and several deadly balconies
- not going to the bathroom ONE. SINGLE. TIME. without the monkey, except for one super quicky before bedtime, because I was afraid he would wake up and/or fall out of bed
- making sure he didn't fall out of our bed all night long (I couldn't push it up against a wall)
- restaurants! Trying to feed the monkey, trying to feed myself, wondering why on earth high chairs in this country do not have that middle bar that goes between the legs, or any kind of strap or other type of safety feature
- Chanukah and Christmas shopping with the 11-kg monkey on my back
- a return trip to the bus terminal, and another 12-hour bus ride home
- waiting (= keeping the monkey entertained and happy, without destroying any property) at the bus terminal for another 45 minutes for Macondo Papa and the monster to show up

I did all that. I was exhausted, but happy to be home. Happy to pick up the monster and see his shy smile as I kissed him and told him how much I'd missed him. Happy to feel Macondo Papa's arms hug me quickly before he grabbed the monkey out of my arms for some tossing up into the air.

I felt good about some of the special moments I had shared with the monkey, without the distractions of the internet, the dirty dishes, the demanding older brother. I felt proud about how hard I had worked and how well it had gone. And completely exhausted, I was looking forward to a bit of down time.

We loaded up the car, drove for 40 minutes, unloaded the kids and...MY BAG WAS NOT IN THE CAR.

I had set it down to strap the monkey into his car seat, and I left it there in the parking lot.

I panicked and freaked. I wanted to run back to the bus station, but Macondo Papa wouldn't let me. He called, got transferred around. Somebody checked, it wasn't there.

My mind raced: All that I had done, the kazillion details I had managed so well throughout the trip, and I was so close to being peacefully and thankfully at home, and at the very last moment I had spaced out and done something so stupid and LOST MY BAG. It wasn't fair. I can't convey how unfair it was.

I wanted to go to back to the bus station, but MP wouldn't let me go in the state I was in, so he went, against his will. Again, how unfair! Of course he didn't find anything, and meanwhile I was a wreck and I had two kids to take care of by myself for 2 hours. Not the way I had envisioned my return.

What, you may wonder, was in the bag? (The most awesome diaper bag, by the way, that I bought on a memorable day with my best friend when we were both about 8 months pregnant, that only cost $25, that was the perfect size, with the perfect pockets, the perfect colour brown, that I was going to be able to use as my bag even when I no longer had to lug diapers around.)
  • Money - I have no idea how much, probably about $70 US, which is a whole lot to us right now, but not so important, in the end.
  • Credit cards - I spent the afternoon Skyping with Visa and Mastercard; it's the only way we can call overseas. Good thing the power didn't go out (a frequent occurrence).
  • Driver's licenses - Canadian and Argentinian.
  • National Identity Card - this is going to be a major headache.
  • Cell phone - boo hoo.
  • Memory card with all of the photos we've taken over the last few weeks, which we hadn't downloaded yet. With a video of the monster singing "Dreidel dreidel dreidel" all by himself. Boo Hoo!
  • Change of clothes and a few toys for the monkey, no big deal.
  • THE REST OF MY FUCKING INVISIBLE BRACES. I only had two more to go. Just one month until I was done. Only one more visit to the bloody orthodontist. Now, to continue I would need to go to Buenos Aires to get the molds taken, pay $300 US to send them off, and $900 US for the replacements, along with at least another two follow-up visits. I can't do it. It's way too much money, especially for what were supposed to be essentially free braces, other than the expense of the visits to Buenos Aires.
Okay, I'm done complaining for now. I know it's all just stuff. Not even a hard drive, or a lifetime of photos, or an irreplaceable address book. On Monday, I'll file a police report to get the ball rolling to replace some of the ID that I lost. Life will go on.

Maybe it hit me so hard because of my exhaustion. Because of all the effort wasted. (My teeth!) Because I wanted to write about other things but instead had to write about this first. Because instead of a happy and cuddly rejoining with the rest of my family, I got panic and tears, money wasted and more work to do.


Have you lost anything valuable? Are you able to keep things in perspective, about what really matters, all the time? Do your kids see you cry? Have you travelled alone with little ones?


julie said...

oh mama! that really sucks. the strangest thing is that i had my purse stolen here in toronto the very same day (with all my id, including passport!). are we kindred spirits? (i also didn't handle it very gracefully!) love you.

macondo mama said...

woah, that is too wierd. really. but somehow makes me feel a lot better. you made me smile. i love you lots, and i envy (some of) the toronto-ness of getting your new ID.

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