The Detour Ends: Destination Ohio

11 May

On May 13, 2011, we announced our plans to move from Los Angeles to Ohio by way of Buenos Aires. We didn’t have all the details worked out, but we knew this:

Our hope is to live and work in Buenos Aires between 10 months to 2 years. The length of our stay will depend on a variety of things such as jobs, income, health, comfort, etc. However it works out, this is going to be a long detour filled with adventure, many firsts, and unique stresses before settling down in the Midwest.

The past 2 years and 7 months in Buenos Aires has not only exceeded the length of time we imagined staying, it’s also exceeded all expectations we had of the type of work we’d be doing, the level of friendships we’d gain, the flexibility we’d learn, and the size of family we’d be upon leaving.

In part, because we want our son to grow up around as many family members as possible, we’ve decided now is the time to reach our destination. By the end of June 2014, we expect to be in Ohio para siempre.

The details of our future are once again unknown, but we figure if we can make a good life for ourselves out of nothing in Buenos Aires, we can certainly do so in Columbus around a network of good people and great family. So much to look forward to!

This guy can’t wait to become a Buckeye.

Arriving in March!

15 Dec

Charles Matias (“Charlie Matu”) Callender

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This Christmas season, we are counting our blessings, and anticipating saying “hola!” to this little guy definitely tops the list.

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After our initial dazed and giddy shock of finding out we were expecting, we were surprised a second time to find out it was going to be a boy. As soon as people learned I was pregnant, everyone – family members, people I work with, a hair dresser who claims a perfect track record, even random people in my apartment building – predicted I was having a girl.

So, we had to rethink names. We immediately liked the sound of Charlie, and we knew we wanted his name to represent the beginning of his story in this world. Charlie will be born in Argentina in mid-March and will have duel citizenship here and in the United States (our Argentino anchor baby). The name Matias (Mah-TEE-ahs – soft s) is popular in Argentina, rolls off the tongue nicely with Charlie, and we like it.

Spring in Buenos Aires may be the most beautiful time of year here as the periwinkle jacaranda trees are in full bloom. Recently, we took advantage and set out with our super-talented and generous friend Emma Johnson to photocapture this exciting season for our growing family. These are me at 25 weeks.

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Emma’s good!

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Easter Renewal (Or Listen to Your Grand-dad)

1 Apr

One of the challenges in our last days before moving to Argentina was struggling to answer many of the shall we say… specific … questions from family and friends.  But a year and a half later, there’s one I still find myself asking from time to time.

“You have to keep in mind,” my grand-dad gently pressed us. “Are you running to something or running from it?”

My grand-dad is slow to impart wisdom. Even in his 80s, he seems to prefer listening and learning from those around him.

Grand-dad and grandson with his name

Grand-dad and grandson with his name

And at the time he asked me this question, I couldn’t answer him. Or, more truthfully, I didn’t want to. It felt like the right answer was to tell him I was running to something. And that wasn’t exactly true.

When I left my job in Los Angeles, I was definitely running, fast and far, from it. For five years, I had taught in at a public high school in South Central L.A. And, for four-and-a-half of those years, I had loved it. Helping kids become first-generation college students, teaching teenagers how to read, being a part of the movement to close the widening social divide in the U.S., it all filled me with a great sense of purpose, pride, and joy.

And then, halfway through year five, I lost the joy in it. There’s a bit of a mantra among good teachers, “Once you’ve stopped enjoying teaching, Stop teaching.”

It was time for me to go. Sometimes, these huge life decisions can seem difficult, even impossible to make. For me, one day, I went home, started to cry, and I couldn’t stop. I mean. I. Could. Not. Stop. It was really that quick. In one night of extremely sad clarity I knew it was time to go.

And so Grand-dad, I was running from something.

Some people are blessed with overwhelming awareness of one thing that they are really passionate about and good at. I had that for a while with teaching. And then, it ended. I didn’t know what was next, or where I was headed. I simply knew that this particular chapter was over, and I didn’t want to just sit and wait for a new one to begin.

This is obviously only part of the story of why I moved to Argentina. Stephen has his own personal one. And, we also have a more important one together.

It being Easter season, a time of mourning loss and celebrating hope reborn, here’s the hopeful ending to this story.

After six months of feeling professionally lost in Argentina, an opportunity came to teach elementary kiddos at an international school here in B.A. One conversation with the principal, and I knew I wanted it.

I never thought I could enjoy teaching such little ones. Turns out, it’s mostly thanks to them that I get to love teaching again. Through their young eyes, I’ve regained delight in the simplest of pleasures and amazement in all things new.

Getting ready for the new year

Getting ready for the new year

BAICA 2

For me, this season has had me reflecting upon some of my losses leaving L.A. A humbling realization that I could no longer hack it at a job I still believe so deeply in. A grief over my vision for those kids, their future, and the harsh contrast with reality. A desperate silence that can come with unwillingness to accept God’s handling in all things, wanting him to do more.

Good things still happening. You never forget the kids who thank you personally before graduation.

Good things still happening. You never forget the kids who thank you personally before graduation.

Love this kiddo. We were freshmen together.

Love this kiddo. We were freshmen together.

This guy is about to graduate from university!

This guy is about to graduate from university!

And, it has me celebrating in a way my own renewal. From a night of tears and loss, to my simple day today in a café – smiling as I lesson plan for my new group of kids, reflecting on my hope for their lives, and feeling grateful in the work I get to do.

So now, Grand-dad, I think I can tell you that a year and a half ago, I was definitely running from something more than I was running to anything in particular. And, I think that’s okay.

I’ve noticed a trend among long-term travelers and expats. It seems many of us experience a similar urge to run from something at the beginning of new travels.  I’m convinced we’re not the only ones.

We’re all created to continually search for renewal, in essence, to run from the parts of ourselves that keep us from being our best, loving our best, serving our best. It’s necessary at times to shed the old before we can find the new.  And while we find different solutions to these crossroads in life, my grand-dad’s sage words can probably help us all along the way.

What are we running from?

What are we running to?

A Wedding on Bales of Hay

17 Mar

Did you hear the story about the Canadian who married a Brit in Argentina? Yeah, me neither, but I’m sure this story is better anyway.

On January 5, 2013, two of our friends, Paul and Emma, got married on the grounds of a polo club outside of the city. Theirs was one of the most enjoyable and beautiful weddings we’ve ever attended — a perfect mix of Argentine, American and British traditions.

Pre-ceremony

In the morning, we met up with about 20 other vehicle-less guests near the city Zoo. All decked out in our own versions of “what should I wear to an outdoor wedding on a humid summer day” we waited for the chartered bus coming to transport us about an hour and half outside of the city.

We're dressed for the occasion!

We’re dressed for the occasion!

We knew the day was going to be memorable as soon the pimped out school bus rolled up with the driver and his wife ready to go. As soon as we hit the road, the driver managed to yell at a few other cars. One, in particular, got him so enraged for cutting in front of him that he proceeded to pass him and return the favor. Well played, Mr. Driver Man. Don’t take crap from other cars when you have a bus full of people!

We made it safely and were immediately in love with the decor and vibe of the place. It felt like we were visiting a real-life Pinterest dream-wedding pin board. But this was real and by no means an attempt to be overly fashionable. They’re just that cool.

Sitting on bales of hay at the ceremony.

Sitting on bales of hay at the ceremony.

The outdoor ceremony

The outdoor ceremony

The Ceremony

The service was beautiful (and bilingual). The babies cried and crawled and no one cared. The breeze came and cooled us off. The couple shared their matching, self-written vows.

Side note: Normally, when couples write their own wedding vows they are long on words of tenderness (i.e., here’s why I love you, schnuckums) and short on promises. Not Paul and Emma. They spoke tenderly and actually vowed a few things too. Yeah, I like that.

Maggie congratulating the bride!

Maggie congratulating the bride!

The Happy Couple

The happy Couple. Paul (Argentine-American) and Emma (British)

The Reception

Really, this section should be called, “Food, food, relax, polo, food, food, dance, and a pimped out bus ride home with a really drunk guy nearly get a beat down from the bus driver.” That’s how it all went down. But let’s focus on the food.

We’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy the Argentine asado. There’s a rhythm and method to it that puts you in the right mood for spending hours with friends and family free of worry. How perfect for a wedding reception!

Immediately after the ceremony, we feverishly hunted down the fast-disappearing appetizers of deli meats and cheese (called “picada”) and sausage sandwiches (“choripan”). Soon after we headed over to the “dining hall” for more meat.

The dining "hall"

The dining “hall”

Dining on bales of hay!

Dining on bales of hay!

Dining on bales of hay and eating off the old wagons once used to move them. Genius!

Dining on bales of hay and eating off the old wagons once used to move them. Genius!

The complete parrilla. Enough said.

The complete parrilla. Enough said.

After cramming endless amounts of asado into us, we all stretched our legs and headed over to the polo field where four of the waiters transformed magically into really good polo players, with team uniforms and all. Emma took advantage of this time to pull out her charming little sun umbrella. I missed that photo op.

I didn’t miss taking a photo of the mate (herbal tea) that waited for us after the game. Impressive, huh? :)

Mate served during the "merienda" (snack/tea time)

Mate served during the “merienda” (snack/tea time)

The early evening, say from 5-7pm, is the time for “merienda” — that’s snack and tea/coffee time. So, with the mate, we ate some more. Perfectly satisfied, we settled into our bales of hay listening, toasting, and laughing as the families, best man, and maid of honor poured love all over the couple.

The rest of the night was filled with the traditional post-dinner wedding rituals we’re used to in the United States: first dance, bouquet toss, cake cutting, slow dancing, group dancing, etc. There wasn’t a single moment when we were bored. Considering the total event from the first bus ride to the last was over 12 hours, I’d say that’s an amazing day. They deserved it; they’re an amazing couple and we’re happy to call them our friends.

To Paul and Emma!

Oh, about that drunk guy on the pimped-out-bus ride back to the city. Well, let’s just say he also made it home safely, barely. Don’t ever pull on a pimped-out-bus driver’s window curtains. Ever.

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