When we began our year in Chile in late August 2001, we had no way of knowing we’d miss living in the US during a cultural touchstone of our nation. That fateful September day, Evan and I were taking Spanish classes when the first plane hit. After the second one proved the first was intentionally deadly, we went back to our homestay with the Señora to watch CNN obsessively. In the wake of the tragedy, my husband and I felt a profound sense of loneliness for community and family. Should we go home? We decided to stay.
The warmth of the culture that surrounded us was a balm. For months, every person I met socially in the Chilean capitol asked if my family was hurt in the attacks. I was very touched at their empathetic show of support. Fortunately, I could tell them that my sister and her investment banker boyfriend were outside New York for a long weekend at that crucial time. I know not every family was so lucky. The Chileans opened their hearts to us. They’d been through national crises that hit home during their years under Pinochet.
We don’t regret staying in Chile. Leaving after one month, we wouldn’t have learned what we discovered in 13. We took Spanish classes. I brushed up my grammar and Evan started from scratch. Evan attended language schools, then studied with the best profe of all, Antonio. Four friends and I enjoyed monthly writing sessions in Spanish. We honed our work and published a book of short stories. Evan and I traveled our adopted country, as well as Argentina, Uruguay and Brasil. That year in Chile is part of what makes our marriage work, leaning in to each other. We’re holding hands through the good, the bad, and the ugly, life might throw our way. ¡Olé!
Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! –Rebecca