Last Sunday, Marisa and I met up with a friend to explore the San Telmo Market. Stretching over many blocks, including a park, vendors converge on the area to pedal everything from fresh squeezed orange juice to hand crafted daggers. A stroll down Defensa, the main drag of the market, tickles the senses. The smell of fresh baked dough and onions wafts from trays of golden brown empanadas. Antique Swarovski crystal chandeliers glitter above dusty pink dresses and crinkled leathers shoes. A band of nine musicians (a singer, a piano player, a bass player, two violinists, and four bandoneón--folk accordions used in tango) melds the sounds of each instrument into a gasping melody. For a few pesos you can dance the tango with a seasoned milonguero. Dressed in a brown pinstripe suit and smart brimmed hat, he confidently glides his partner across a sheet of plywood.
The market sets the stage for an impromptu celebration of life. As I waited for a puppeteer to begin his show, my attention was drawn to the beat of drums moving up the street. What I saw was a group of long-haired, linen clad young men pounding out rhythms and stepping to the sounds they created. Suddenly, out of the crowd stepped an older woman. She wore a fuchsia sundress and a leopard print sweater. Though her face showed her to be a woman of about 60, she danced with a zeal and confidence that defied age. She led with one hip and then the other, using every part of her body, down to her hands, to express the beat. And she did not stop. She took the lead and headed up the street. We crossed paths again as the group headed back down and the woman was still there unabashedly dancing.
The music and dancing, the pretty things, the fresh food, these made all the difference. I came home from the market feeling happy. The celebratory spirit of the impromptu dancer has stayed with me. Though the last weeks have brought scares, sadnesses, and tragedies (both personally and globally), life has also presented plenty of reasons to celebrate.
Yesterday was Marisa’s 29th birthday. Even though we are far from family and friends, we made it special. I bought her flowers and truffles. She treated herself to two pairs of very tall, strappy, black tango shoes. We lit candles, went out for sushi, strolled through the Japanese Garden, and drank wine. In addition to Marisa’s birthday, I, personally, have had reason to celebrate. The University of Missouri accepted me to their Journalism MA program and offered me a full scholarship. This means that I will be able able to attend next fall without accumulating debt.
There are so many reasons to celebrate--a birthday, an unexpected gift, the sunny sky, a good rhythm. I am happy to recognize good things and to take time to enjoy them. Cheers.