Before going away to college, I was told that in order to succeed, I would have to learn good time management skills. Over the four years, time management skills was something I thoroughly developed. I learned that getting a sandwich and eating it while walking to the library or to class was much more efficient than actually sitting down in the dining hall . My junior year I found that the quickest way between my dorm room and Spanish class was to cut through the science building by walking through the chemistry department rather than risk walking through the geography department and potentially losing time by bumping into a professor or fellow geography major. I finished college having two minors to complement my degree in geography but I would like to think I had a concentration in time management.
Time management, even though it was something I could not physically pack in my suitcase, was definitely something I brought with me to Uruguay. I quickly figured out the optimal time to leave my house in order to catch the right bus to La Obra. Every day I woke up, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, got dressed, quickly said “buenos dias” to the portera, the door lady and then I was off to face another day in Uruguay. That became my daily routine. Then one Monday as I was leaving, the door lady asked me a question. I quickly sputtered out an answer in Spanish and continued out the door. The next day, Tuesday, the door lady asked me the same question. Wednesday too. I was starting to wonder if the door lady had a bad memory. Coming back from La Obra on Thursday of that week, the door lady repeated what had become the question of the week. This time instead of giving her a hurried response, I actually sat down in the empty chair next to her to answer the question. We ended up talking until her shift ended.
After that, my schedule changed a bit. The quick and curt “buenos dias” in passing became a sincere morning greeting. The “buenos tardes” after a day at La Obra transformed into longer conversations. I soon learned that Kristina, the person previously known as door lady, used to live in Argentina, did long jump in high school and does not like sugar in her mate. In turn, Kristina learned a lot about me. For example, when mail arrives at el hogar, Kristina is is the one who holds it at the front desk until the recipient claims it. Earlier in the year, if I had mail I would scurry up to my room, eager to hear news from home. However, now if I have mail, I sit down and open and share it with Kristina who now is well-informed about my life in Wisconsin thanks to shipments and clippings from hometown newspapers. During the summer, when all my roommates went home for summer vacation, it was great to have someone to talk to. I think that Kristina, who sits by herself most of the day monitoring the front door listening to the radio, felt similarly . Once again, I have been a witness to how accompaniment, a central theme of YAGM, really is a two-way street.
These days our conversations have started to include talking about how cold the weather is getting and the fact that my YAGM year is coming to a close. I realize that all the times this year I have spent sitting, people watching and listening to 80s music with Kristina is going to be one of my favorite memories of Uruguay. I also realize how none of those memories would exist if I did not do such a good job of managing my time.
|Kristina y yo|