After dinner (my first empanadas!) I tell him about how I'm starting to plan a vacation to Buenos Aires, where he studied for a year and learned to dance, and he becomes almost as enthusiastic as I feel. "Wait a minute," he says after a bit, and hurries out of the room.
He comes back with something in his hand. "Here," he says, holding it out to me. "You can have this."
It's a pocket-sized map of the city, the size of a playing card (though thicker) when it's all folded. The scuffed cover tells me that he must have used it during his own time there.
"Thank you," I say, surprised, and I unfold it and begin studying the layout of the city. There is information about bank hours and other useful things in small print on the back.
"If you ever go down there long-term, you'll want to get an apartment here or here." He points to two districts marked on the map.
"I thought you said there were transvestite prostitutes in Palermo," I tease.
He shrugs. "It's Buenos Aires; there are prostitutes everywhere. But it's still a decent neighborhood to live in."
We continue talking about the city, and my plans, and the tango. Before I leave, I fold up the map and slip it into the pocket of my sweatshirt.
I am tired when I get home--I think the wine was strong; he was sleepy too when I left--and I forget all about the map until the next morning, when I dress for work, pulling on the same sweatshirt. One pocket feels slightly heavy. I reach inside, and my fingers encounter the glossy cardstock of the map's cover.
I leave the map in my pocket as I go out the door. I am smiling.
Mario Calarota - March 16, 1936 — Last night I decided to start calling the milongueros again on their birthdays as I had done for so many years. Today I called Mario. F...
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