25 December 2010

it's everywhere I go

"Girls were hot, wearing less than bikinis
Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis"
-Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice Baby"

Such a random day yesterday. I stayed in, because the family wanted bonding time at the beach, so I bonded with my own family via skype. I might have been a little bit stressed, because this is my first Christmas away from home, and I guess I just felt a little alone.

It doesn't feel like Christmas here. It's going to be 87 degrees today, and it's already 73 at 9am. I may very well spend my Christmas day on the beach. But the thing that seems most wrong is the lack of family and other loved ones around.

Anyway, back to yesterday. Jose Ignacio has been described as the Hamptons of South America. What do people like to do in the Hamptons? That's right, wear white at their get-togethers. So when I found out I'd be going out to La Barra with the family for the evening, I knew it was time to dig up that white dress with the gold shoulder beading I bought at H&M in Milan for 5 euro. I knew there was a reason I'd hung onto it for these five months or so.

True to form, host mom was wearing a white flapper dress with mad fringe, and Teen Vogue was in an off-white lace shift. Very demure, and very stylish. They were really sweet to compliment my dress, even if they could probably tell that it was supposed to be a really, really oversized shirt (I bought it in an extra large though, because I didn't want a white, off-the-shoulder, oversized shirt with gold beading, I wanted a white, off-the-shoulder, short dress) and I'd gotten it off a clearance rack in H&M. At least it was from Milan, right? That's sort of classy, isn't it? (This would be a good time to forget all the things I've said about Milan being almost more hellish and depressing than Naples.)

Anyway, the neighbors came over, we had some hors d'oeuvres (really? did I just spell that right?), drank a little champagne, opened gifts (I was pleasantly surprised to get a little gift from Santa as well), and then piled into the car to make the arduous journey to La Barra.

Once again, the family had neglected to explain to me what we were doing in La Barra. I think everyone assumes that someone else has already explained things to me, which only results in mass confusion. As a result, I didn't know that we were going to mom's boyfriend's parents' house until, oh, thirty seconds before I walked in their door. Maybe I should have been worried, due to all the straightening up the kids were doing, and how nervous they looked, but I don't think I had time to worry. Within moments I was swept into the house, and introduced to half a dozen people between the ages of probably 35 and 80.

You want to know something? They were awesome. I'm in my element when people see me as a novelty and want to know all about my adventures and the differences between my culture and theirs, and I was never without someone to talk to. I first met the mother, who sort of glided around the room in an aqua-colored chiffon ensemble. When she heard I was from Kansas, she told me I simply had to meet her husband. I was a little confused, because what could an elderly German man possibly know about Kansas (greatest state in the union)?

Well, it turns out he had graduated from K-State. Yes, that's right, KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY. Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but I just find it to be an incredible coincidence that this man, who was born in Germany and grew up in Argentina, should find his way to Manhattan, Kansas in order to study agriculture and economics. But then, I don't really believe in coincidences.

So we talked about that for a little bit. The penitentiary at Leavenworth was brought up, as were the Flint Hills. He actually claims that the best beef in the world comes from there, and he's lived in Argentina. How incredible is it that, at a time when I'm so far from home, Kansas should come to me? I had a smile on my face all night.

And it may sound lame, but these people really were fascinating. One woman, whom I really think I recognized, although I can't remember from where--spoke English with such a perfect accent that I simply had to comment on it. "Oh, but darling," she laughed, "I was born and raised in Manhattan!" They were all like that--'darling,' and 'Oh, but I say' and things like that.

I had a very in-depth conversation about forensic and linguistic anthropology with the youngest man in the group, a guy named Lupo (why a German-Argentine who speaks English with a perfect aristocratic accent would have the Italian word for wolf as his name I have no idea). He seemed to be very amused by everything I had to say, so maybe I had a little too much champagne by this point (only four glasses in five hours, I promise!), but it was still nice to talk about such complicated things with someone, because it's tough to find people who even speak English well enough for that.

We were there from around 11 until at least 1:30, having a light dinner around a table on their patio, with Chinese lanterns around and fireworks going off overhead.

"You know," Lupo told me, "You can see the fireworks much better from the rooftop terrace, and there's a beautiful view of the ocean."

"Oh, uh, I can actually see them really well from here?" was my awkward response. I took another drink of champagne and looked around for someone else to talk to. (Trying to think of a really bad joke about him being 'hungry like a wolf' for me or something, but I've got nothing.)

And did I mention what was on the menu? Champagne obviously, but there was also caviar and foie gras. The grandmother was appalled and could be heard muttering, "Caviar and foie gras for Christmas? But they brought it all the way from Germany and France, what could I do. . ." I declined to taste either, being a vegetarian, but now that I've looked up caviar and its harvesting methods (rarely involves killing the fish anymore; did you know that?), I kind of wish I'd tried some. Just a little bit, with my cream cheese and toast.

The conversation was mostly in German, with plenty of English thrown in for my benefit, and a lot of Spanish as well. I even heard a tiny bit of Italian. By the end of the night, though, everyone was exhausted, and we drove home in silence.

Today, Teen Vogue and Jeremy Sumpter leave for Buenos Aires, where they'll meet up with their mom and then fly to Italy, to spend a month with her boyfriend's family in Milan. (Did I mention that I'm insanely jealous of their lifestyle? Except for the part where they're going to Milan) I heard somebody mention that they would need to leave around 8:30, so you'd better believe I set my alarm nice and early so I could help out. I ran out to the bathroom in the stables (so I wouldn't be in anyone's way), alarming both Karina and Juan, who were cleaning/mucking stalls.

"Ah! Liz!" Juan exclaimed. "Did you fall out of bed or something?!"

I did my makeup and my hair and brushed my teeth so I would be presentable, and then hurried back to my room so I wouldn't be late. And then I waited.

And do you know what I realized, after an hour of waiting?

They aren't leaving until 8:30 tonight.
A little gift from me to you.


Becky Lundgren said...

Hey, you were at G'Mom's last night. They had your photo up during the group photoshoot, too. ;-)

Lizzie said...

Yay! Thanks for the e-cards btw--they pretty much made my Christmas Eve!