Today, Raúl Alfonsín gets sworn in as president of a deeply traumatized country. It is bittersweet – on the one hand, I am full of joy and relief – the days of military rule are over, but on the other hand, I can not feel the sense of hope I’m supposed to feel. How do you even begin to fix something so broken? Raúl (my friend Raúl, not Alfonsín) tells me that Alfonsín is full of false promises, and that everything is even more complicated than it seems. He tells me this without making eye contact, looking down at the dough he is kneading.
Raúl and I have been co-owners and managers of La Paloma II for the past four years. We lived together for two years, sharing a small flat in a big building overlooking a parking lot. In ’81 he moved in with Ariana, his girlfriend, who he got to know slowly as she spent more and more time in La Paloma with muffins and coffee and books. I have been largely lonely – I talk to Elena on the phone, and I see Raúl everyday and some days I see Ariana, who is lovely to have as a friend, but I miss Raúl as a roommate. I’ve tried dating a little, but nothing ever stuck – I wonder, sometimes if my feelings about my relationship with Raúl are more complicated than I have let myself believe. The emptiness I feel eating my meals without him is, I think, uncharacteristic of platonic friendship. I never let myself run away with these thoughts.
Alfonsín gets sworn in today, and I am glad. But it does not change history. It does not change the years of torture that Raúl endured. Some friends are getting together tonight to watch the inauguration, but I think I will stay home.