A tale of two Shakiras

10 years ago I was belting out Ojos Asi admist an ocean of Chileans on the field of Santiago’s Estadio Nacional.  It was the year 2000 and I was studying abroad: getting to see Shakira in concert was one of many extracurricular "perks". I've been a Shakira fan since high school, as a true lover of creative weirdos she's always been right up my alley.  The first CDs I bought were Smashing Pumpkins and Pies Descalzos.  I was beyond psyched to see her in concert: her voice is truely amazing live.

I like to credit Shakira for at least half of my Spanish vocabulary. When I was in high school I was inexplicably obsessed with learning Spanish so I translated all the lyrics to her first two albums via dictionary.  I don’t mean Internet dictionary, we didn’t have that miracle back then. I sat down with my paperback dictionary and looked up every single word I didn’t know.

Ojerosa, flaca, fea, desgreñada, torpe, tonta, lenta, necia, desquiciada, completamente descontrolada, tu te das cuenta y no me dices nada - Ciego sordamuda

Let me tell you Shaki has a big vocabulary, and thanks to her so do I.

Last Tuesday when I went to see her at Arco Arena, not 10 minutes from my house it was a little surreal.  Belting out those same songs a decade later, my life is unimaginably changed. 10 years ago I was a young college student studying abroad, hopelessly lovesick for the new boyfriend she left behind. Now I’ve been married to that same man for eight and a half years and we have a son. And as I stood in the stands screaming “Viva Colombia!” in a sea of amused Mexicans I had a “moment”.

I realized that we adopted a child from Colombia.

You’d think that I would’ve gotten over it by now, but the thing is I'm tired all the time lately. I use all my emotional reserves to shore up the patience required for a high-energy toddler. I don't have it in me to perform extensive analysis of my current reality.   This leads to weird moments when I realize what I should already know: holy crap, my immediate family are all Colombians.

Self-reflection is apparently what I do at Shakira concerts.

Si es cuestion de confesar no se preparar cafe y no entiendo futbol - Inevitable

2010 has been the hardest year of my life: sometimes I've felt like I wasn't going to make it through.    Last week our social worker came over for a post-visit and she said "Wow, you guys look tired." "Do we look that bad?" I said 1/2 dissapointed that my front wasn't working and 1/2 relieved to not have to try to keep it up. "Well" she said "I remember what you were like before and...( at this point Elian started trying to remove her glasses while shouting "No, Pam, NO!") well he's really a lot for first time parents to handle."

Everybody knows that parenting is exhausting, thankless work so I’ll try not to whine on forever about how I’m tired. I am though: I am tired of the screaming and kicking, I'm tired of not enough sleep, I'm tired of feeling like a failure all the time and I'm over bursting into tears at inopportune moments. As Elian adjusts and we get the hang of things it's been getting better but sometimes the exhaustion really breaks us.

I've been battered over the last year and I was sure that reminscing on my time in Chile would make me wistful but I felt the opposite: I was totally overcome with gratitude for everything I have now. Studying abroad was an irreplacable and formative experience but I was desperately lonely during that time.  I was homesick and lovesick: a bad combination. That semester made me who I am today and is probably one of the reasons that Arnold and I got married but it was a hard journey.

Mis días sin ti son cómo un cielo sin lunas plateadas ni rastros de sol. Mis días sin ti son sólo un eco que siempre repite la misma canción - Moscas en la Casa

Last Tuesday as Shaki and I had our once a decade in-person reunion I saw the younger verison of myself and felt grateful for the battles I no longer have to fight. I may be tired but I am not alone in a sea of strangers.  I knew at the end of this concert I wouldn't be heading back to sleep in a bunk-bed at a freezing-cold boarding house, I would be returning to the cozy home I share with my husband and son.

Un dia despues de la tormenta, cuando menos piensas sale el sol. - Sale el sol

Sometimes living out your dream is so challenging you think it will break you but other times your heart is so full you can't imagine that it hasn't grown three sizes.  Last Tuesday I thought I would burst, my joy was so complete.  To release the pressure I screamed with pride for my family’s paisana until I lost my voice and when the party was over I went home to my family: to the man I was heartsick for all those years ago and to the little boy who's breaking my heart so that I can build a stronger one.

Posted on October 25, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.