Universe, Is That You?: Searching For a Sign

Buenos Aires, ArgentinaOpen Subway Doors

I was walking home one afternoon when I saw a sign. Literally.  For a gym offering pole dance classes.  My neighborhood is the Buenos Aires equivalent to New York’s Upper East Side.  And any fitness class combining exotic dancing and stay-at-home socialites is a class that I can get into.

The gym invited me to a free trial class the following Saturday.  I was excited to try pole dancing.  And as a freelance writer for Suite101, I decided to do a piece about the benefits of pole dance for the magazine’s health & wellness section.

Just minutes before leaving my apartment, it began to rain torrentially.  This was one of those famous Buenos Aires showers that comes out of nowhere and lasts just long enough to flood the city (although, given the city’s engineering, leaving a garden hose running would probably have the same effect). I was going to need a tarp and a rowboat to make it to the class.  Committed to writing the article, and to meeting a friend, I went anyways.

Soaking wet and waiting for the bus, a thought suddenly occurred to me: what if the Universe is sending me a message?  What if I’m not supposed to go to the class?  What if I shouldn’t write this article? On second thought, I realized that while pole dancing may not be the most decent of pastimes or conventional of topics, the Universe was not going to conjure a storm to keep me from going to class.  Clearly, a meteorological event experienced by an entire city is not a burning bush.  But what about something that happens just to you?

I spent weeks deliberating my decision to move to New Zealand.  Even though I’m happy in Buenos Aires, the reality is I’m starting to get restless.  I’m ready to move on to the next challenge and to start a new phase of my life.  Unfortunately, for me evolution means leaving.

Tired of turning circles, I summoned courage and went to the Aerolineas Argentina office to make a reservation.   According to the woman behind the counter, a ticket from Buenos Aires to Auckland would cost nearly three times the price published on the website.  She assured me that she knew all of the promotional codes, and that there were no deals to New Zealand.

Panicked, I ran home to discover that the woman had no idea what she was talking about.  The fare was still available online.  After much debate over dates, and a few frantic phone calls to friends and family, I submitted my request.  “Sorry,” lamented Aerolineas, “we were unable to process your request.”  In that instant, the price had gone up $300. I changed the dates to get a better fare and finalized the reservation.  Now I just had to pay.  If only it were that easy.

First, the website only accepts Visa and American Express, but I only have a MasterCard.  Thankfully, my mother agreed to lend me her credit card and I was able to proceed. Aerolineas practices price discrimination, charging foreigners a much higher fare.  To get the lower price, you don’t have to be a citizen of Argentina, just a resident.  Nevertheless, the first thing they ask of you is the number of your Documento Nacional de Identidad (National Identity Card), which I of course don’t have.  A sales rep suggested that I pay over the phone.  After giving her the relevant information, including where my father went to college and the name of my first pet, she told me that I would receive confirmation when the transaction was processed.

Three days later, Aerolineas notified me that “the purchase is not complete, because
Visa could not contact the bank and verify the information.” Luckily, the airline agreed to let me pay in person, and later that afternoon, I took the subway to the Aerolineas office.  As we pulled into a station not an hour before the office closed, a voice announced that there was a problem with the subway.  The train sat motionless in the station for nearly half an hour with its doors wide open taunting me to run.  Some people believe that anything worth having is worth fighting for.  I have a slightly different motto: it shouldn’t be this hard. That many obstacles had to be a sign.

I am constantly searching for a sign, an answer to all of life’s questions, such as should I exercise this afternoon? I have good instincts. I’m just not very good at trusting them. When there are so many attractive options available, and so many things that can go wrong, it’s difficult to listen to the sound of your own voice.  Other times, I’m sure of what I want, but I’m scared of what I will have to do to get it. Unsatisfied or not, it’s never easy to trade comfort for uncertainty.  Every once in a while, I wish someone would tell me what to do, or guarantee that what I’m doing will be worth the effort.

The thing is, for something to be a sign it has to be out of the ordinary.  But, sadly, nothing about my experience purchasing the plane ticket was uncommon for Buenos Aires. Yet in my desperate state, I was convinced that the Universe was telling me to go home.  Fortunately, I didn’t listen.

Despite all of the opportunities to walk away, I bought the ticket.  And not only did I get a fare exclusive for Argentines, I was able to pay for it with my own credit card.  I felt empowered, confident that with time, patience, and determination, I could accomplish anything and comfortable with my decision.  And the best part is that the decision was all mine.

If the Universe is as we see it, I was seeing my doubts and fears. Even though my intuition tells me that New Zealand is the right place for right now, leaving Argentina after three years is going to be hard, and starting over is going to be hard work.  Maybe I’m scared, or maybe I’m just lazy, but part of me was hoping someone would tell me not to go.  Either way, at some point, I told the Universe to go to hell.  I’m going to New Zealand.

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