Falling In Love And Breaking Your Heart In A Foreign Country

Jessica Duska
November 17, 2017

This isn't your typical love story, in fact it is more of a love tragedy. I never expected to come to Argentina and fall in love, but sometimes these things happen and obviously you can't control it. My better judgements told me, you are abroad and things are inherently different. You can't just do this. It couldn't happen, and yet as he followed me to Plaza San Martin and sat down on the bench behind me, I felt myself falling.

The day began bittersweet. It was our last class at La UCA, and while none of us were sad to leave the exam or the long journey over to the partner university, we were experiencing the first of many "lasts" in Argentina. With a little over a week left we had our last Spanish class, our last McDonald McFlurry (hopefully), and our last bus ride altogether over to Puerto Madero. 

I tend to get angsty as things start to end. I hate goodbyes and without realizing it I begin to push people away so I don't have to go through the hugs and the cries and the 'see you in a long while's. As class finished I was in a sour mood but we grabbed our usual ice cream and took a gorgeous stroll along the river. Sunshine has a way of making all the bad seem so much better.

We stopped for a bathroom and that's when we made eye contact for the first time. He was sitting near the door, a silent type. I didn't think much of it but he was still there when we returned and mantained that deep eye contact you see in sappy movies. We started walking along the river again... I was thinking how handsome he was and yet how things are so different when you are abroad. The possibilities of encountering another stranger again or bringing things back even when you do seems far from possible. In a weeks time I would be leaving, there wasn't much to do...

He was bolder than I expected, and followed us along the river. He kept running ahead and then would look back to make sure we were still there. People would whistle at him, he really was handsome, and yet his attention didn't falter as he kept up with us...

As we neared the bus stop we were realizing that the spark would end soon, we would likely never see him again. I split with my friends, as they got on the bus I turned towards home. It was a beautiful day and I would walk back and clear my head of this bittersweet day. But as I crossed the street he came with. He continued to go back and forth, running ahead of me and looking back, getting distracted and then coming right back. As I neared Plaza San Martin, he followed me up the stairs. He really was persistent. People looked on as we passed. We were both alone and yet people assumed we were together, I could tell...

I walked through the park and slowed down... the purple flowers had blossomed on every tree in Buenos Aires and the plaza was a forrest of green and lavendar. Kids were swinging on the playground that seemed so tiny as an "adult" if you could call me that. As I neared the end of the park I could still feel his presence behind me, and I sat down on a bench. Maybe this would be the end of it all...

And then he sat down on the bench right behind me. His intention was clear, he wanted some attention. And I was falling.

Meet Scooby - the real life version of love at first sight

While you are abroad you often times forget to think about how different your experiences are from "regular life." As you get into a routine and make friends, abroad becomes your new normal. Speaking spanish, living with a family, wearing the same clothes every week... it all becomes "regular life" and you forget what it is like to order food in Enlgish or invite people over to your house.

Falling in love abroad also isn't easy. Eventually you have to return and in most cases you can't bring your love with you. Had I been home I would've taken Scooby back to my house, gotten him his shots, and adopted him. He imprinted on me and we clearly all imprinted on him too ;) But as I sat on this bench I had one of these isolated realizations: I wasn't home, I couldn't call anyone because my phone doesn't work without wifi, I couldn't take him back to my homestay because it wasn't my space, and I couldn't even take him to a shelter because those don't exist in the city as far as I know... we both just sat there together, helpless.

As a journey comes to an end, you begin to have all these realizations. You start to notice how independent you've been, how much you've struggled, and then again how much you've overcome. While I couldn't give Scooby a home, I walked him with confidence through my city, I spoke Spanish to the vet and asked her for help, and had already developed a plan for if he was still outside my apartment door the next morning.

Scooby and I walked side by side to my apartment door. I stood outside with him for quite a while trying to decide whether or not to rent an Airbnb to leave him for the night. I couldn't leave him... he had come so far and the smell of the ice cream on my hands had clearly imprinted on his heart. Goodbyes are hard :(

As I opened the apartment door he tried to sneak in with me. I couldn't make eye contact as I shut the door because it broke my heart. I started to think about how different my life would be if he was in it. This one choice and I would propel on a totally different path. Had I been home... another wildly different path. I started walking up the stairs and couldn't see his handsome face anymore... I knew I had to leave. It was timely and I wasn't ready. But he had imprinted on me too, and I wouldn't forget his sweet face. I wouldn't forget that he walked further with me than most sane people would. I wouldn't forget the looks we got as we walked along the river... that must be her dog, people thought. 

But just as the end of this larger journey has snuck up on us... I won't forget.