First Day At The Co-Working Space

January 9 — When you’re 40 and you get up eat breakfast, exercise, do a little work, get dressed, pack your lunch, make sure you have everything you need for work in a backpack and head off for the first time it can feel more like you’re 14. Of course, it’s especially true when you go to the wrong location.

We Roam sent us the address but I didn’t enter the address they gave me I simply entered the name of the space in the maps and it popped up Palermo, Soho. Which is where I live and I was told it was relatively close.

Unfortunately, our location is Palermo, Hollywood and it’s only a few weeks old so it doesn’t pop up on the map with a name yet. No big deal. Thank goodness I always like to be early so I won’t be late for orientation.

It’s gotten warmer already and this backpack is full of books and my laptop. Not to mention I have my lunch and some food supplies to give to my fellow Roamers. I’m not dripping sweat but only because my light gray t-shirt is soaking it up. At least I’m getting my exercise, right? Seeing as much as I can of Palermo whether planned or not is a good thing. These are things I tell myself.

There aren’t many people walking. The buses are filled. In Georgia walking is never really an option due to lack of sidewalks. I’m enjoying the opportunity and plus it doubles as exercise. For a metric lesson I have learned 250m is equivalent to two blocks on the main street and four blocks on the side streets.

Walking by stores fronts I notice how many are still closed and it’s past 9am. The paint store is called the color shop here. There are a ton of pet stores too. Only about half the dogs are on leashes. Even though so many things are in Spanish nothing seems completely out of place. I’m guessing because growing up in California you see Spanish everywhere.

While I’m Mexican I don’t speak Spanish and the words I do know come more from being a Californian than a Mexican. It’s not a direct translation here either. I’m reluctant to try and say anything back in case it’s wrong. For instance I say “adios”. They say, “chow”.

I can feel my hair has lost all its curl and expanded like a chia pet. However, putting it up isn’t an option yet because it will uncover the sweat stains when I take off my backpack. And my no slip, no show socks slipped a long time ago. Fortunately, I did pack an extra shirt which will come in handy.

I’ve made it to the location and I can say I probably have walked about 5 miles already this morning. Check that off the list. Clara, the space manager, is super kind and gives me a hug even though I tell her how sweaty I am. The We Roam staff team is here and only a few other Roamers.

After changing my shirt, grabbing some coffee, and settling in I don’t really know what to do. More people have arrived and I find myself looking around the room to see what everyone else is doing. I start to think to myself, “What would I do if I was at home?” All this prompts is what I wouldn’t have done.

I wouldn’t have put on makeup and got properly dressed. I wouldn’t have eaten breakfast. I wouldn’t have packed my lunch. I wouldn’t have walked 5 miles. These are all good things. Things that aren’t part of my normal day though.

To gain some work focus I put in my earbuds and turn on music to get me psyched to work. Mission accomplished. Now I’m ready to go. Too bad we have an orientation meeting to attend. Is this what it feels like to be in an office again? It’s better than most meetings and shorter. As soon as it’s over I’m ready to work and change the music to classical.

Only twenty minutes in and I can hear others saying it feels like the first day of school for them too. They also don’t know what to do. Taken out of our normal environments, even to a space designed for remote working, is a bit challenging. Some people seem to jump right in. Still I see so many heads turning and people leaving the open space for a secluded one.

I get back into another rhythm and now I’m hungry. This wouldn’t happen if I was at home. Sometimes I go until 3pm without eating anything because I forget. It’s not a good habit. Maybe it’s because I’m walking so much. I stop again to eat some yogurt I brought. After I wash the spoon I fill a cup of water and go back to my workspace.

Only a few hours later I’m hungry again. It’s lunch now so it makes sense, but not totally. I get to a stopping place and break for lunch. There is only one other person eating here and he’s not with our group. Some other Roamers have left to eat lunch out. Since I don’t have any pesos yet that’s not an option for me. Not all of the smaller, local places take Visa.

Strategically placing myself at an angle to the guy sitting at the table, I begin to eat my lunch. I’m not sure what to say or if he speaks English but I want to make conversation easy. It was.

His name is Tiago and he works as a VC (venture capitalist) and business consultant. We barely spoke of work which is not like me at all. Instead we talked about travel and what I thought of Buenos Aires so far.

It hasn’t been what I thought at all. There are far more amenities than I thought. I haven’t seen a lot of poverty and only two homeless people. In no way do I feel like I’m in a third world country. What I prepared myself for seems overly cautious now.

A couple more hours of work and I have to stop and go get my currency exchanged before it’s too late. I change back into my t-shirt but this time leave the backpack. Getting out in the middle of the afternoon feels good. Even if I’m sweating and walking miles.

It’s later in the day and people are starting to leave. Many have plans to find supplies for lunch since going out is about a two hour ordeal or experience depending on how you look at it. A few more hours go by and I’m contemplating staying until they close at 8:30pm or leaving and trying to create more work boundaries for myself.

Mother nature forced an answer. It’s pouring rain outside and all of a sudden water is gushing up from the ground drain in the kitchen. Quickly it spreads throughout the first floor. I’m out.

I have an umbrella but it’s not really to protect me, it’s to protect my laptop and books. Thank goodness I bought a water resistant laptop case! As crazy as it may sound not to have taken a taxi or Uber I’m living like a local and they are out walking too.

About the second mile I start to think this is not my brightest moment. The water is getting deeper. In some parts it’s almost up to my knees. I’m looking to see how others are crossing the street. If grandma can do it so can I.

In a brief flash of genius I realize I’m on a side street. If I can get to the main street it would probably be better. Huge difference. Next problem. I don’t know exactly how to get home. I know the general direction and being on a main street helps.

Most people have chosen to go barefoot at this point. I refuse. With the rough streets I’m worried about cutting myself, tripping, or breaking a toe.

Who knows how long I’ve been walking now. I don’t want to pull out my phone in this weather and it’s not even easy to get to in my backpack. There it is Scalabrini Ortiz. My street. The bad part I’m on the 700 block and my apartment is on the 1600 block. I’m killing step goals today!

Then it hits me. I’m really looking forward to getting home and relaxing. Normally I don’t have those feelings. You’ll never hear me say, “I just want to sleep in my own bed.” or “I want to have a quiet evening at home.” That’s how I feel now and it feels good. It makes me smile.

Once home I quickly check the Facebook group to see if anyone is going out for dinner. It’s quiet. With the rain and getting situated I think most people needed to slow the pace. I know I did. I came home, made dinner, read, watched a little TV and went to bed. I didn’t open my laptop once which is just short of a miracle.

For the first time in a long time I felt normal on my own. I had three meals today. I spoke to several people and had interaction that wasn’t all work related. Me and the kids texted and talked about regular, daily things. Not without its bumps along the way, but this is what I wanted from the trip. I’m getting the hang of it.

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