A Chilean Boyfriend?!

To date vs To fall in love

My first interactions upon landing in Santiago included two men from the taxi company making small talk with me, asking me where I am from, is this my first time in Chile, how long will I be here, what brings me here — and, pretty soon, “Are you going to get a boyfriend in Chile?” To which I laughed both times, “No sé, pero cinco meses es un tiempo largo.” I don’t know, but five months is a long time.

The Tufts-in-Chile program, as we have been told, and as I have witnessed myself, has a historic record of people pairing off with a Chilean, every year.

I find the question funny and endearing, and slightly remniscent of home. In Taiwan, “你有男朋友嗎?” is also one of those early conversation starters, get-to-know-you questions from strangers and family friends alike. It’s a question that always brings me deep, genuine laughs.

“Get a Chilean boyfriend” is not on my study abroad bucket list. But what is, is — “Fall in love.” I mean it in the broadest terms, of course — fall in love with a new city, with a new corner of the world, with new friends, fall in love with a different view of the good life, or fall in love with life altogether in a new way. But I’d be lying if, in the back of my mind, I were to say I haven’t been thinking about finding myself a couple amantes in Chile.

Earlier at breakfast, someone mentioned how they wouldn’t want to find a romantic partner here because of the time limit, the short five months of our stay, and then adios, back to the U.S. That makes sense. Yet I am motivated by experience, not the time allowance.

My biggest goal for the next five months, aside from mejorando mi espanol, is to challenge myself. I have a few sub-goals and more concrete objectives to go towards the vague self-challenge, but at the heart of it , I want to challenge myself because for the past six months, so often I have felt listless, directionless, that even in times of joy and fulfillment with work and people, still finding a lack of gravity to answer confidently, without shame, to the question of, “What are you up to?” Being purposeful is, to me, to do work that matters, but also to matter to the work that I do. To genuinely care and to be in a state of flow, a continuous stream of being rather than incongruous patches. This feeling is not new, but its persistence this time around is — I think about my theme for the year — “2017, the Year of Perceving and Doing.” I’ve meant to integrate the two, but if the first half of the year leaned towards perception, may this second half translate all that perception and learning into action.

And one of those could be falling in love.

I mean, since Day Two I have been on OKCupid, browsing through the limited selection but still curious for the powers and magic of serendipity. Walking around the streets, in restaurants, whereever there are people — I find myself looking at beautiful people as I do wherever I am, but also lingering on with some prolonged eye-contact at stranger-men that I would pass by and never meet again. Looking into those eyes, I would imagine myself falling in love with their unfamiliarity.

There was the main waiter at the restaurant we lunched at. An older man of at least 50, possibly 60. Armed with a jug of mulled wine and charisma, my mind wandered. What if, what if? He felt famliar, as if I’ve seen him in some Spanish movie featuring some Spanish restaurant.

There was the guitar player at the peak of Parque Santa Lucía. We were offered a 360-degree view of the city and the Andes cordillera beyond, a clear beautiful sky above a glistening city after the previous day’s “snow storm.” The music was light and brisk, the performer huddled to the side. I was touched by his music, a soundtrack above the cityscape, and found myself taking side glances at the man, thinking, what if I fell in love with the music, and its musician?

View from Santa Lucia

And there was a man leaning against the barrier to take in the view before him. His profile gave me a double-back. It was as if I saw the spirit of a man I still unfortunately love, who is 6,000 miles away from Chile. He seems to be at least thousands of miles away from wherever I am, be it Boston or Taipei or Santiago.

Stranger men overlooking the city as I do.

And perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, but my mind also wanders — so, say I do get an internship at a local startup accelerator and through it meet international men, men from Santiago, men from other countries, what about some Californian entrepeneurs that I get to visit when I’m back stateside, my world coming together from all hemispheres and all gathering together somehow in love and California? What about it? Love coming around full circle, new love as a remedy for old love? (Yes, I’m getting ahead of myself, but imagination is a good exercise.)

Will I get a Chilean boyfriend? Will I get a boyfriend in Chile? I don’t know.

But, I hope I fall in love.

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