I’m at the Continental gate in Ezeiza airport, confident I am at the right gate without double-checking given the five people I see typing furiously away on their iPads. I begin arguing in Spanish at length with the gate attendant. After forcing everyone through yet another bag check before boarding the plane, they find three large tubs of dulce de leche in my bag and tell me it’s considered a gel. I am livid since conveniently there is no hope of putting any of it in my checked bag. Every time I travel I seem to become increasingly frustrated by the inconsistencies of various American air transport companies, and this is the last straw.
A friend of mine has done me a favor and organized a car to pick me up through her company’s account and has put the car in the name of an employee. A woman is standing to greet me when I step off the plane and as we wait for my bags to arrive she begins asking me about my flight…in Spanish. I am jet-legged and half asleep so at first it doesn’t occur to me how weird it is to be back in the U.S. and speaking Spanish again. Then I realize the name of the employee my friend has used is Latin and my driver based on her accent is obviously from either PR or DR. I am still trying to figure it out as the luggage carousel begins to move, thinking how unlikely it was for her to think I was from either of those places given how ghostly-white skin and my Porteña accent. Once in the car she explains that her company had told her that I was from Argentina and didn’t speak much English, but she tells me she suspects I do! I begin to laugh.
My first day back after 10 months in Buenos Aires, I never have felt so short walking the streets in Manhattan. At first I can’t figure out if it is just that I have forgotten how tall people are in North America and how much more I blend in being almost 5’8, or if something is actually different. A few days later it occurs to me that I have arrived just in time for fashion week and that this year for the first time it is taking place only a few blocks from my parents Columbus Circle apartment. I hope I won’t feel so midget-like for long.