Belong

Here, inside my heart
Is a song
It’s full of whistles and drums
And happy voices singing in my native tongue
“Lalalalaia Lalalaiaaa.. ”

These mountains are beautiful
But they don’t feel like home

No

I miss my ocean breeze
And the joy of having hot sand between the toes of my feet
I miss the smells and sounds of
My Brasil
My mother’s lap
My dad’s tight morning hugs
And seeing the sun rise each morning
Straight out of the ocean
As if gently emerging from its bath

I know I could live anywhere

The problem is,
I no longer belong
somewhere

No

Citizen of the world
I no longer belong
even to me.

 

 

 

 

Sweet

I picked up the book I’ve been reading with a set plan to devour it today. I half sat, half laid on the sofa, as my body reclined against the glass door that stood between me and the ocean. I read a few pages, as the cool ocean breeze caressed the right half of my body. I haven’t known what cold means for weeks, but suddenly it felt cool enough to justify the use of a light blanket. I got up and found the closest thing to a blanket in my parents’ aparment: a beach sarong. I wrapped the printed sarong around my body like a shawl and resumed reading, thinking of how ridiculous I probably looked and caring not at all.

I read until the natural light coming through the door was all but gone. I remember only getting up from that couch once, to prepare a dish of toast with light mozarella cheese accompanied by green olives stuffed with pimento peppers and a glass of refrigerated red wine. I half despise and half love my parents for refrigerating their wine. The daughter in me loves them, finds it even endearing, especially since my mother takes it one step further by adding gassy water to her refrigerated wine. The wine lover in me, however, screams blasphemy!

No matter. I poured the cold wine in the fanciest crystal goblet I could find and took up my spot on the couch once more.

I read until I forgot who and where I was.

Sometimes life can be so sweet.

HOW

Ealy life crisis.

I’m sure such a thing exists. How else can I explain what I’ve been going through this past year? Everything that I thought was important, suddenly appears not to be so. A definite and clear shift in my values and even some of my personal qualities has taken place. Yet I sit here facing the sea and have no more tears to cry, no more “whys” to demand from life.

The past few days I’ve had short encounters with locals that made me realize some things. One man, while sitting at a bar, spoke to his friends as he sprayed himself with cologne saying: “I’m already ugly and poor. I can at least smell good!”

Today, the vendor who rents beach chairs decided that he would help me get a cab from the beach by all costs. He stood attently looking at both sides of the street and calling the attention of every cab that passed by, until he finally got me one. I had already paid him for my chair and stool for the day and I never asked for his help hailing a cab. Still, once he put his mind to help me, there was no stopping him. He did it willingly, with pride even to be able to help me.

The taxi cab driver who drove me to a salon yesterday told me that he lived in a big city before moving back to Maceió, where I am currently living. When I asked him why he moved back, he said: “There was no beach there. A day at the beach, with the sun, and the cold beer, and that delicious fish one can get! It’s too good, there’s nothing better than that. How could I stay in the city?”

Simple.

Have I just been complicating my life? Pushing aside the things I love for grandiose ideas of what my life should really look like?

It’s not about what we’re doing with our lives; It’s about what we do when our life isn’t going the way we’d hope it would. All these men have taught me this lesson these past few days.

Now when I sit in front of the ocean thinking about the mess I’ve made of my life, instead of asking WHY, I’m asking HOW.

How can I begin to be happy again?

Helena

She found reasons to hold my hand during the time we spent together

And nearly saved my life by walking me over the other side of the street

To her, my feet with no calluses were feet of royalty

“Little Princess”

she called me

I held her tight when we said goodbye

And told her all about the gifts I’d bring her next time:

A stool bench that folds, a pair of sandals like mine, a new brand name polish to keep company to the one I gifted her last time…

But then she left without knowing

how much love I felt for her

This woman I’ve seen only twice in my life,

Who paints my nails while sitting on a plastic bucket

And tells me stories of family, love, and tragedy

All accompanied by a smile and good cheer.

Oh, Helena

Do you know how special you are?

If I’m princess, you are queen of this universe

And don’t you dare let them tell you otherwise

You’ve given me more warmth in a few hours than I’ve received in months in that far away land where I hail from,

Where we keep all our calluses in our soul,

not our feet.

New Girl

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been the “new girl.”

Born in Argentina to Brazilian parents, I was practically born bilingual. At home I experienced my parents’ Brazilian culture, and at school the Argentines. My parents, however, were always actively trying to adapt to Argentina and its culture, to “become one of them.” My mother, bless her heart, would speak to me mostly in Portuguese at home, but with some selective Spanish words mixed in (she always called a jacket a campera, in Spanish, even if speaking to me in Portuguese). As a consequence, I never understood that campera was not an actual word in Portuguese until I moved to Brasil a few years later.

“Who’s that girl that speaks Portuguese funny?” some curious and nosey four year old probably asked another of his classmates.

“Oh, she’s the new girl. Speaking of her, what on earth is a campera?”

From birth, it seems, I’ve been her. It takes me at least ten minutes to think of all the different cities and towns and states I’ve lived in. The countries I can count fast enough (four, boom!). It sounds like it would be fun and thrilling, but it sucked when I was growing up. It specially sucked when I moved to the United States and had to learn a whole new language and a whole new culture I knew nothing about. It also didn’t help that, when I felt like I was getting accostumed to one place, my parents would be hauled to another. Insert here the story of me eating lunch in the bathroom alone (one of the saddest, most depressing events in my life. Also the least hygienic). But so life went in the Bastian clan: 6th grade in one city, seventh grade in another, half of eight grade in one state, half of high school in another… two different high schools, until finally… college.

You’d think that once I got to college, I’d settled down a bit. But two and a half years in and I was leaving for Paris.

After graduation, I moved back home.

A year after that, I moved accross the country.

And a year from now, if it all works out, I’ll be moving again. And the thought of a new city excites me. It freaking excites me.

So how did this happen? Surely I hated being the new girl, every second of it. But maybe I got so used to all the commotion of moving (dooo dooo, do the locomotion!)   that now I find myself unable to stay in one place for too long. Unable to call any four walls a home.

Or maybe some people were meant to lead a stationary life, and maybe I was meant to run. Run until I can find some place that I love so much I can’t bare to leave it behind, or find someone just as wild to run with me forever.

Or, here’s a newly found explanation funded on the most recent and advanced medical research I just made up: I have SDD- stationary deficit disorder.

Regardless of the reasons why I continue to find myself restless after a year or two of being in the same city, I guess I better get re-accostumed with the title of “new girl.” It doesn’t seem like it’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.

Unlike me.

Sounds

The advertisement from the supermarket around the corner screams: G Barbosa, our kind of cheap! Downstairs at the LGBT bar, a husky voice sings a Bossa Nova song so perfect I give up trying to decipher the sex of its singer. I’ve come to love all these sounds. The sound of men, huddled on the streets selling all sorts of things- from cane juice to the latest pirated version of Avatar. Sometimes yelling at each other, other times laughing, telling jokes, indiscreetly trying to pick up the pretty girl that just walked by.

There are also the sounds of the women- fanning their faces, walking by on the hot sand trying to convince you to buy shrimp or boiled peanuts or a fresh sandwich: one for three, two for five. From down the street, the loud forró plays from a car being used as a speaker: “Yes, I’m going, my woman doesn’t own me…” If you don’t like the song, you’re out of luck. This is music for the community. No one will call the cops, no one will complain. Instead you’ll hear people walk by, singing and dancing along to the hit of the moment. Some, like myself, will pay attention to the lyrics and at times snort at their absurdity. Then I’ll  start tapping my toes along to the beat.

This is the Brasil I know. These are the sounds I miss, when I’m sitting in my living room and the silence is so deafening because I can’t hear the waves and the sound of life happening all around me.