One pressing question that is constantly on my mind when it comes to my regards to relationships in Latin America is this "How do I know when someone is growing fond of me?" Latin American society is open, loving, and friendly and everyone is your friend. But even within a society as open as the Argentine society, it does happen that you may be growing on someone but they are unable to recognize their feelings. And when I talk about feelings of fondness, I'm not necessarily meaning romantic. In fact, out of all the types of relationships, romantic is probably the easiest one to guess and is the most obvious.
But it´s when you have friends who want to deepen their friendship with you or are craving a relationship with intimacy, that is where things can get a little bit tricky. As some of you know, I have been on a journey with one of my relationship that I felt was a little different from the rest and she turned out to be my mom and take on a maternal role. It's no secret that I have an Argentine mom but it is a little known fact that Latin America also bestowed upon me the gift of an Argentine sister as well.
The behind the scene story behind this new development began with my morning class in english for evangelism. For 2 hrs every monday starting in April, I would teach two women english as well as teach lessons on cultural differences between Argentina and the rest of the world. Around the middle of June, I once again began to feel hints of fondness coming from one of my the students.
From having gone through this once before, this time I had a little more wisdom and experience and was able to catch on early that there was some kind of chemistry that might be happening between us. There were very different body language than Marisa had with me. But I did keep alert and continued making careful observations. If there is one thing that I learned from my relationship with Marisa is that in situations like this, you have to be the one to recognize the signs and then make the person aware. Because in their culture the emphasis is friendliness and openness and doesn't teach them a whole lot about intimacy and bonding.
Our relationship began to progress in little ways like adding each other on facebook. She seemed especially excited that I was now more accessible. For her, she has never travelled outside Argentina and I was her first North American friend. I think that early on, my biggest clue that I was growing on her is that everytime we were both online at the same time on FB, she was just jump at the chance to chat with me live.
We started to joke and she LOVED my sense of humour and the way I did things. It was so different than everyone else in her world and she seemed to drink up every moment of our interactions online. Finally after 3 wks of so many little moments happening, I came to the Saturday nite church event where Ceci and the other student go to. This was my first attendance Sat nite church so it was such a treat to see them outside the classroom setting.
Upon seeing me, Ceci's face beams and she immediately gets up from the table where she was sitting and gets me to sit right next to her. In fact, she got the person that was sitting with her originally to take their own seat. There was only one seat and we both shared it. Sharing the same chair ended up in having more body contact than usual but she didn't seem to mind. I almost felt as if she was enjoying every minute of it....not unlike Marisa.
Two days later on my usual Monday morning class in english, it worked out that only Ceci showed up, the other lady couldn't make it. I taught my usual english lesson for the first part of the class. Then we took a 15 min break and when I came back, I gave a cultural lesson....on love.
I explained that in Argentine culture, theme is love and openess and friendliness but in other more reserved cultures, people prefer intimate circles. And friendship can be something filled with deep and powerful emotions.I used this a platform to tell Ceci that I think that there is a kind of a chemistry between us that has developed over the last few weeks and she's gotten kind of fond of me. I didn't even need to give her time to think, she immediately said "yes" and confirmed all that I said was right. It was simple and painless!
We talked more on cross cultural relationships and I explained to her the story of me and Marisa and how she came to be my mom. And Ceci agreed with me that she and I felt like sisters and it looked like God was giving her a little sister It felt really good that we were in agreement and she was made aware of all that was going on. Marisa's reaction to me was quite obvious to the naked eye but it took her a long time for her or I to really come to an awareness of what was going on. With Ceci, it was almost the opposite....there wasn't anything dramatic or obvious about her behavior but when we actually did get a chance to talk, we were able to identify it much more quickly than I did with Marisa.
So it looks like Ceci's gonna be a new additon to the colorful cast of characters that I have going on this blog. I now have both an Argentine mom and an Argentine sister and will have to navigate balancing relationships with these two women who are very emotional in very different ways and have very different needs.
To those of you who enjoyed watching my cross continental drama unfold with Marisa., get ready to watch as I deal with another gal who has never had a relationship with someone who spends part of their time abroad. In another life I think that I would make a fantastic juggler for Cirque du Soleil seeing as taking on an Argentine sister doesn't relieve me of the task of juggling relationships with an Argentine mother.
Looks like life for me is a tale of two Argentines....