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You know what would have been the most crushing blow when you were an adolescent? You’re talking to someone marginally cooler than you, and you speak of your cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die crush, and lament, “He (or she)probably thinks I’m a geek.” And one of the cool kids walks by and says, “Name of crush? HA! He doesn’t even know who you are.” But you have to stretch it out… Doesn’t even K.N.O.W who you A.R.E. (insert snootygirl hairflip here).

Oh! the therapists you’ll see. As a teen, as an adult. The conversations you’ll have until you are old and wise about how this one time, everyone found out that you had a crush on that guy/girl and it was painful and terrible and you felt like you would die. Except me. That never happened to me. We could discuss why that is, but why? when we haven’t yet touched on how this relates to Chile.

Chile is that kid. That kid who says, everyone thinks we’re backwards, poor, indigenous, impoverished, noncultured, third world, (insert more negative adjectives here). And the cool kid walks by and says, “Who?”

Don’t get me wrong, this nation of 17 million people is more than a blip on some people’s radar screens. Certainly it looms large in my imagination and outside my window and all around me and even follows me around with my accent and my whoa! that’s spicy to things I previously would have loaded on with aplomb, and my patience and belief that things can get fixed and will work out and a million other ways in which my attitude has changed.

But really? Most people, when presented with the country Chile out of context, look off into the distance and try to remember an old map they once saw of some distant continent, and try to imagine who its neighbors might be. Which is why, the whole “see, we’re not a banana republic” or “we’re not Indians with feathers in our hair” comments I occasionally hear strike me as almost schoolgirl-sad. Nobody thinks that about you, Chile. Because really? They’re so wrapped up in their football games and precociously pubescent girlfriends and getting the whoosh in their hair just right, that they don’t even KNOW who you ARE.

But don’t worry, I’m doing what I can. And maybe it ends like one of those afterschool movies where the ugly girl just needs to let down her hair, take off her glasses and work it, and then everyone will see just how fab she really is. And she’ll walk right by the awesome bizarrely-broad chested preteen of her former dreams and find her true geeky love. Because everyone loves the underdog.

Besos (kisses) Chile, yesterday you rocked my world (many administrative and bureaucratic items taken care of with tissue in hand and covers to chin, most impressive. I’d write an ode, but that would be stepping on Pablo Neruda’s posthumous toes. Please don’t say “who?”).