Not just any job, I try to explain to Jeremias’ brother Lucas. He counters me saying that if I smuggle clothing across the border from Chile I could make as much as 6,000 pesos a day. “In one day!” he emphasizes dramatically. Or I could sell coffee near Puente Oliva where there is not a cafetero (bicycle-bound coffee vendor (jeremias’ occupation) in sight. Or I could learn how to make tortas (typical Mendocino roll seasoned with cow fat) and sell them seeing as Lujan lacks a real bakery, everyone says so. I could make thousands, in two months I could buy myself a motorcycle!
Jeremias, Lucas, and their father Javier are seasoned professionals at working the streets. “Hay plata en la calle” [there is money in the streets] they insist. They learned a long time ago that working laborious hours at jobs that compensated them less than a living wage was futile, unfulfilling and plain stupid. Jere explained to me once that he was fed up “haciendo rica a la gente” [with making other people rich]. Instead, they have each carved comfortable niches for themselves in the streets, making more money in one day than they could have in a week working for the man. I admire their smarts, their savvy and their creativity all born under the weight of the heavy hand of necessity. But how can I explain to them that it is not the kind of life I want, and that it is the kind of life I have the very real privilege of opting out of.
God damn liberal arts education. Fill my head with reckless and irresponsible creativity. Every thought should be thought! Every thought is wonderful and good! Now you expect me to join the work force and humdrumdrumhumhumdrum…. Just forget it all. Retarded. I’m beginning to understand the popularity of blogs. Hundreds and thousands of people finally have the opportunity in public, to contest the world that their lives are not as bland as the equation of their boring jobs and their unfulfilling relationships. In a blog one can scream and shout, “I know what it looks like but actually I am an interesting person!!”… Here, the notion of liberal arts, of learning just for the hell of it, is unthinkable. Here, before enrolling in any class you pick your major which is not just a major but which also gives you the credentials for some kind of job in the real world. Imagine that!
How do I explain to Lucas then, that I will feel unfulfilled, spiritually and emotionally depraved, empty and hollow without some kind of job that challenges my brain, stimulates my creativity, and not necessarily one that fills my pocket. This is a sentence that will remain untranslatable not because of language barriers, but because of hurdles of class and culture, that make it unintelligible to them and that equally make their lives—lives that I will never ever live no matter how long I stay here beside them— unintelligible to me.