LETTER HOME: THAT “FULLY-PRESENT-AND-GRATEFUL” SHIT
Dear Family and Friends,
When I wrote you last from Buenos Aires, I was dealing with the recent effects of a night spent snuggling with bed bugs. This is not an experience that I recommend.
But I’m happy to announce that, over the course of the week, my wounds have healed. My face is no longer covered in mountainous mosquito bites, and I have finally ceased to resemble a highly pubescent pizza delivery boy whose ripe pimples might ejaculate zit-goo at any given moment. I’m relieved to have the ol’ Baylis face back. It’s not the most symmetrical of visages, but over the past thirty years, this face has done me well. As a matter of fact, an hour ago, as I was picking up some fixings for a delicious pasta dinner at the local Supermercado, some mighty fine trannies happened to flirt with me.
I guess I still got it!
Indeed, with the absence of bugs munching me during the nights, not only have I become less hideous, but I’ve also returned to my normal sleeping pattern. And this makes a world of difference.
This princess is much more charming when she’s had her beauty rest.
One of the best parts of the past seven days has been spending time with an old friend, Chantal. Well she’s not THAT old, but what I’m trying to say is that our friendship has extended over seven years.
Chantal is from Montreal, and when she heard that I’d be in Buenos Aires for the month of April, she politely requested visiting privileges. I was eager to have a little slice of home delivered, and it has been quite pleasant to have a familiar friend around. We laugh at old jokes, and are creating new ones to share with our gang back home. Sharting has never been such a fine topic. But I will spare you the details, okay?
On Thursday, Chantal and I spent the day in Uruguay. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to meet Jorge Drexler, who is obviously the most famous Uruguayan, but we did do a lot of walking and eating, and we happened to climb to the top of a lighthouse. The town that we visited, Colonia, was drenched in old-world, colonial charm. It was easy to photograph. I could have given my camera to a blind man, and he would have come back with stunning images. The whole town, I’m fairly certain, stumbled out of the pages of Condé Nast photo shoot. The charisma of Colonia actually makes me roll my eyes.
The entire time I was in Uruguay – all six hours – I had this clip from The Simpsons playing in my head.
And speaking of gay stuff, the day we visited Uruguay was also the day that The Advocate Magazine announced their list of “40 Under Forty” for 2011. I was tickled pink by the outpouring of love and congrats expressed by my Twitter and Facebook peeps. And although I was in such a beautiful location, I was also craving to be in front of my computer to co-celebrate the honor. I have no salary during this year, and a little love from a well-respected magazine is a non-financial bonus that is VERY appreciated.
There were moments when I had to remind myself that I was in Uruguay for just one day! And I should be grateful/present/full of inspiration/etc! Not everyone is granted these opportunities!
But that “fully-present-and-grateful” shit is tough.
Being connected is an important part of this project. I constantly dance between documenting my experiences and being fully present in my travels. One could argue that as soon as I whip out my camera, I do not fully exist in the moment. I would support this theory.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the values of my trip. I’ve been thinking about what this trip is and what this trip is not. Chantal jokingly accuses me of being addicted to WiFi. On some level – it’s a big, obvious level – she is actually highlighting a piece of truth. I am fairly chronic when it comes to “connection.” I notice that my moods can be affected by whether or not I’m able to achieve my regular posting objectives.
Ultimately this trip is NOT focused on spiritual enlightenment or romance seeking or language acquisition or personal financial development. Although I’d be thrilled if any of these things were byproducts. My trip IS about documentation and engagement. It’s challenging myself to take better photos, create interesting videos, write more stimulating texts and, most importantly, to engage with local people and learn about their realities.
I’ve recently confirmed my May destination, and it’s a fairly isolated location. I don’t imagine that I will have much access to the World Wide Web. I’ve been wondering how to manage this situation. As a travel blogger, I’ve taken pride in keeping my content fresh and as close to “real time” as possible, as well as being accessible to answer reader inquiries and to respond to feedback about my trip. I really love this element of my project.
And I wonder, what would three weeks “unplugged” look like? Would my readership be compromised? Would my SEO take a nosedive? Would the world stop without my presence?
And in posing these questions, I realize how egocentric I actually am.
Let it go Baylis. Go attempt some ““fully-present-and-grateful” shit.
With love from Buenos Aires,
PS: Uruguay IS really gay. Just sayin’.