I, Lénica Rodriguez Cruz, celebrated my 18th birthday today. September 22nd 1968 divides my youth from my adulthood (at least, in the eyes of Argentina, I am now of age). In a country of immigrants, my mother and father have been here longer than some. As I did, they were born and came of age in our city, the only home we know, Buenos Aires. My father’s father took a boat from Sevilla across the Atlantic when he was not much older than me, and my papá was born on the same street that we still live on. He works now for the city government, in mayor Iricibar’s office. To tell you the truth, I don’t really know much about what he actually does. Even though my brother Lionel is two years younger, papá always tells him more about work and politics than me. Mamá, though, will always talk to me. Her family moved from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, across the mouth of the Río de la Plata, a few years before she was born. She loves books and storytelling, and would tell me magical stories every night before bed when I was younger. She has worked in the same library since I was 10 years old. Now, even though I’m too old for her fairy tales, she reminds me to keep my imagination alive and always puts new books on my bed. Sometimes she makes fun of papa for being too uptight, teasing and calling him a stiff castellano.
But enough about my parents. Who am I? That question is easier posed than answered. What I would call my self seems to be constantly changing. Currently I sit in between the real world and my childhood, feeling each tug at me from opposing directions. I would like go to university, but for now I’m working at the grocery store around the corner. Mamá has always encouraged me to read, but my father says that I shouldn’t go to college unless I know what profession I want to study for. Imagining a career seems so confining and difficult, I would rather explore and meet people and see new things and hear new music! I’ve always really liked music, and earlier this evening for my birthday I went with my two best friends to a real club with tango players! I wasn’t brave enough to dance with anyone, but seeing the bandoneon in that dark, smoky room (not a stuffy concert hall) made my heart leap and beat harder. I felt so alive! I would love to play bandoneon, but papa has always insisted that I stick to piano lessons. And whenever my mind slips and my fingers begin to pick out a tango on the worn keys of the upright in our hallway, he yells form the living room for me to resume my scales and Mozart.
I’d better get ready for bed now, I have the rest of my life ahead of me and I need to sleep. I will dream of my own apartment and a brand new bandoneon, where I can play and tango late into the night. Buenas noches!