Lo de Julio Exists. I Went There.
By Vivi Rathbone.
Kevin and I were wandering through Colegiales. My high-heeled sandals were slowing me down as we crossed cobblestone streets in the dark. Kev walked patiently as I regretted my shoe decisions, laughing the entire time, while navigating directions to our destination by landmarks and intuition.
“Do you know the address?” Sometimes I’m practical.
“It doesn’t work like that, V, you just arrive to Julio’s when the moon is right.” Kevin answered.
“Huh. Where are you taking me, exactly?”
“It’s kind of a restaurant, it’s more like this open storefront owned by older man named Julio where he cooks for his friends. It’s like the original closed door. There is no menu, he just cooks whatever he wants, which are usually typical Argentine dishes: milanesa, tortilla, pollo al horno. At first the patrons were mostly cops and taxi drivers, and now it’s a base of faithful customers, and a young crowd of artists. It’s a regular cast of characters, like Jorge the police officer / abstract painter, or Tio, this old taxi driver who speaks in Che Guevara quotes and samba lyrics and never remembers that he’s already met you eight times.”
Kevin continued: “You have to see this place – it is wild. The walls are filled with art, old photographs, and artifacts – everything has a story behind it. Julio is an Uruguayan transplant who has been living in BA most of his life. He practices Kabala.”
“How did you find out about this place?” I asked, because Kevin always knows the cool places.
“I found this video.” He told me:
“I was curious about the place and asked everyone that I knew if they knew where it was, but no one did. Then a few weeks later, a film director friend of mine was in Buenos Aires shooting a movie, and we were invited to dinner at Julio’s. It was just as magical as I thought it would be.”
“So what happened at that dinner?” I asked, trying to gauge an impression of where we were going.
Kevin recounted: “Well, it was winter, and the BAFICI was going on, my director friend and his producer were staying with me. At dinner we were the only ones at a communal table under 50. I felt like I was living in an indy movie. Everyone else there knew Julio. After dinner Julio came out and told me my future. He looked into my eyes and told me about my energy and described what kind of person I was.”
“What did he say?”
“He told me that i was going to find a girl that would treat me like a ‘muñequito. She would cherish me like a little girl cherishes her favorite doll.”
We turned a corner, and there it was. We sat down at a table with three pretty Porteñas. Kevin already knew them. We sat down. Kevin went to the fridge and grabbed a beer; he grinned at me from across the table.
“Once you’ve made it to Julio’s, you’ve made it. This is your VIP expat card.” He rose his glass.
“So, now what happens?” I asked while trying to soak in the scene.
Now you read your fortune from the kabala book! The Porteñas passed us an old book.
First ask it a question, then flip to a page, and point to a verse. The verse will have the answer to your question. Kevin went first:
“Hmmm, where it says “porque no estas amando”, I’m not sure what that is referring to whether it means i’m not in a good place in general, or about something romantic.”
“What did you ask?”
“I asked the book whether my doubt had any validity. Going back to the states did a number on me. I hadn’t expected to like things as much as I did. It was the first time i could see myself in the States, which has never happened with any other trip. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been feeling like something isn’t right. And that’s not me.”
“Maybe it’s telling me to lose myself again, and just love, and I’ll feel like myself again. There really are moments here when it feels like the first time, when I feel excited and wide eyed at the city, but sometimes the chaos can get in the way of that. Ok, your turn.” Kevin handed me the book.
What is my next step? I asked silently, while I flipped to a page and pointed to a verse.
I’m not sure it was the answer to my question, but it is a good idea.