Carla Avenia
Why not?

Not too long ago, I was asked a life-changing question.

“OK. Why not?” I replied.

And an instant after having uttered those words, I realized how many years of un-conditioning I had gone through in order to be able to utter them wholeheartedly. But after a quarter century of being alive, I was finally able to do so without hesitation, and I felt grateful to all that I had to live first -both good and bad- in order to make that very moment possible.

As a little girl in Argentina, I spent endless hours exploring a family atlas that had magically landed in my modest family library. Its origins were dubious, given that it was in Italian and it contained many inscriptions from previous users, in both Spanish and Italian, tracing routes explored and commenting on the experienced lived by these mysterious travelers. I never questioned its provenance, I simply took it upon my own hands to further its contents, so I carefully explored each map, memorized outdated demographics, and plotted out my future trips guiding myself by the pictures of different locations and the annotations of my ancestors. Somehow, I always assumed these writers were adventurous women, or maybe I just hoped to become one of them one day.

About this time, my fixation with Europe began to develop. For no other reason than the comments from previous travelers in my family, I set on to one day discover this continent myself. Although I lived in an isolated corner of the world, and came from a middle-class family, I never used these factors in analyzing the feasibility of this endeavor. With time I came to learn that none of these factors, nor financial ones, mattered. But not just yet.

Before Christmas of 1998, my family decided to move from Argentina, back to my mother's country: the United States. I felt a mixture of excitement and fear. On the one hand, the excitement came from being in touch with the latest technology, life just like in the movies, and the possibility of fame and fortune. Fear was derived the connotations that the name of this country brought to mind: an imposing landscape, learning the English language, rebuilding my social network and leaving everything I ever knew behind.

And so I did, bringing my atlas with me and, with time, I translated my dreams into English. I challenged myself to adapt, to acculturate, to learn English: I would carefully listen to every word I heard and repeated it in mind, over and over. I realize a growing passion, now for languages, one that if pursued would only make my other dreams of travel to faraway possibles even more possible. So as soon as I was given the opportunity in High School, I signed up for my third language, French.

I grew up, I lived, and I learned. Some goals changed, others never did: although I wanted to become a veterinarian, an archeologist, a writer, I ended up studying Economics. I still love animals, get absorbed into my archeological magazine subscriptions, and I write. And instead of becoming an Economist after all that studying, I changed my mind at 21 years old (after graduating) and followed my own dreams of travel -and 30 countries later- I naturally found my calling amidst all these adventures: translation. The only job that will connect my passion for languages and writing skills, with my yearn for a mobile lifestyle.

At 25 years old, I can say that by following those little girls' dreams, guided by an old atlas, I have landed upon a profession that gives me joy, satisfaction, and allows me to follow my preferred lifestyle: maybe little Carla had something right. Maybe she knew all along where she had to go, to get to where she needed to be.

Things change. One day you are Argentine, another American. Sometimes you speak English, Spanish, or French. You eat Chinese food or Mexican. But these are all classifications: after all, humans beings are living organisms, complex communication systems are inherent to us and food is nutritious, no matter what. What varies are our perceptions, which classify everything and everyone we come into contact with, analyzing, judging, separating in a box: nice, bad, annoying, disgusting, tasty, good, funny... This very same perception is the one that analyzes our dreams, down to the very molecules that compose them, classifying them into possible or impossible.

So, when they seem impossible, all you have to change is your perception, and.. suddenly they will be possible. Dreams stop being merely dreams, only then.

Today, I write this from Marseille, France where I happily live with a loving man, with whom I travel, pour over the same old atlas, solve cultural dilemmas that arise from our coexistence within a small studio apartment, and with whom together we perfect our French and English. Spanish is still in my life, but only at work. But you know what keeps us together after all these cultural and linguistic challenges within such a small and confined space? Shared dreams, goals, or possibilities. All synonyms, at least to me. Why not?