A story for Riley

Riley asked to hear a story about Brazil. I’m not sure this is a story, but it’s a start…

Countless nights, we would be up at 3a.m. and would all decide to get together so the boys would go kayaking on this lake, or just talk…. maybe fish. I rarely ever made it home before the sun was out. I had no reason, really.

Some other times we’d drive to this very spot just to make fun of the couples who apparently had no private place to go and be “intimate”. You could totally tell what was going on on those shaky and foggy cars.

rio-grande-porto-velho

Now that I think about it, most of the nights, I was the only girl in the group. No wonder today, I’m the only woman in the office. I’ve been around the guys so much I sometimes forget I am, technically, not really one of them.

My best memories are at night. Me and my friends are all night owls, I’d say.

While all the surfers and the pretty girls would spend the day at the beach, we’d reach it in the middle of the night and watch the sunrise above the rocks. Just a bunch of nerds.

Except for Serginho, the life-guard. Kindest person you’ll meet in this lifetime.

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To this day I am not sure if I was part of the group or if I just tagged along with them randomly from time to time. I know Penna didn’t even like me at all at first, but he was just so unique and cool and admired by the whole group that I wanted to write a book about it. He is the reason why I have a hard time acknowledging that I was as much a part of their lives as they were of mine, since they are the coolest people I have ever met.

This kind of shit makes me miss the old days and it makes me sad that, no matter what I do, I don’t get to go home.

The reason why I can’t go home, even to visit, is because “home” is not there anymore.

The greatest people I’ve ever met, the best group of friends anyone could ask for, they are not down the street like they used to be.

We have all grown up and moved away. All of us. We have become a little buzz on each other’s phones… and boy, how happy that little buzz makes me.

Sometimes I get a little heart from Leandro… ’cause there’s nothing left to say. We have been talking for over 20 years and could talk for a billion more. I’ll tell you a secret, I miss him every day.

Sometimes Guilherme will send me a song, like he did today and make my day. He’ll make my day ’cause his voice feels like home wherever I am. We have been friends since I was 9 years old. He’s the soundtrack of my life. Whenever I feel alone or scared, I look for his voice again and I feel like he’s there, growing, changing, becoming a parent and facing the world with me. And again, I am ready for anything.

There is a chance I’ll see Serginho again. A good chance. A very good chance! He’s the kindest soul I’ve ever met. He’s made me a better person just by being who he is.

And then, there’s Diego. He’s the little piece of me that’s missing right now. I am having a hard time enjoying all these great things without him.

I wish they’d all live down the street again one day…

Ok… but there’s still a lot to go, and this story is quite short. So, I’m gonna show you some pictures now.

This is what the beach looks like during the day, Riley:

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Yes, you can actually drive your car there, which I notice most people find very weird. I was never your beach-girl, but yes, I could walk there for 4 or 5 hours. I’d normally stop because whoever was with me couldn’t keep up. I was a different person. I absolutely miss that person and I wish my girls could play on this sand some day, but the news we get from there are scarier and scarier every day.

And this, Riley, is a ship. It got stuck there (I’m sure there’s a term for this) in the 70’s I think.

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This is what the ship looks like today:

Ver‹o Numa Boa

This is a little bit of home. I have more stories to tell. Too bad it’s such a different place now…

Good night, Riley.

Terrorism

As mothers, all we wanna do is to cuddle with our babies.

When a mother is born, a great fear is born with her. We are afraid of losing our babies and we are also afraid that our babies might lose us way too soon, before they are ready, before they understand what death is.

Death is a big part of the world right now. Therefore, I find myself scared of sending them to school, to concerts, or even to the playground.

Still, this paralyzing fear cannot make me wonder if I should in fact have had children. Nothing could ever change my mind. I was born to be their mom. I knew I’d be afraid. I have always been afraid of everything.

I am a runner who ran away from a place she considered not to be safe for her children. Yet, as I listen to the benefit concert Ariana Grande did for the victims of the attack in Manchester I can’t help but think to myself “is there a safe place”?  If there is, can we call just go there?

I know all of us moms would love to be there. This world is not meant for a mother’s heart.

How does a mother who can’t protect her baby in her arms feel? How does a mother who can’t feed her children feel? How does a mother with a sick child feel?

What the fuck is wrong with this world? Actually, what the fuck is right?

People have “unfriend” me on facebook when I moved to Canada. Out of jealousy, maybe. Not the terrorists, the good people. The people who are supposed to “fight” evil.

This is something I’ve learned from my husband and my amazing best friend. I’ve learned to be tolerant, to give people a chance, to just fucking let them be happy – no matter how stupid their accomplishments might seem to you.

But these people can’t do that.

Unhappy people are unable to just let others be. They want everything to be more miserable than they are. That way, they won’t feel like the most miserable people on Earth.

Some people will just envy you, unfriend you from the stupid facebook. Some people will attack our babies and make every mother’s worst fears come to life.

“Terror”  is, in fact, a good word to describe it, no wonder they use it.

Right now, I am terrified of life and I don’t know where to run.

I’ve watched the interviews where they asked the children at the Manchester benefit concert “why did you come back?” and they said “because you can’t live in fear. you have to live your life”.

They are right. I have lived in fear for months longer than I can count. Every day I waste worrying about something that is not happening, just afraid of the bad stuff that could happen is a day I did not live.

Fear is a powerful thing.

I hope I can teach my children to not be afraid and to live their lives but for that to happen I guess I should learn how to do that myself.

I wish I knew where to start.

 

35

So, it happened. I turned 35 last Saturday.

Five years ago, when I turned 30, I freaked. Well, I am a firm believer that everyone has the poetic license to freak out whenever they reach a milestone.

Back then, my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, asked me “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” .

The childless, single, living-in-Brazil, 30-year-old me replied specifically:

When I am 35 I wanna have 3 children and I wanna be living in a place that’s not New York but would allow me to go there WITHOUT getting on an airplane on a long weekend or whenever I feel like it.

He took a deep breath and said “well, that’s quite hard”.

I just kinda…

Dude… you asked me what I would wish for, if I could wish for anything in the world. I was not being realistic.

Except, it turns out I was.

So, here I am, the 35 year old me. I am short one kid (by choice) and I must say, despite all the fake-confidence I had when I said those words to my husband, I too am very surprised that in 5 years I got myself where I wanted to be.

But apparently, I do have the secret power to attract the things I say and I feel like that’s a power I should use.

So, I’m gonna make a wish for when I’m 40.

When I’m 40… I wanna be really happy. Just like I am now, except, without the panic disorder, which will allow me to actually ENJOY it. I  also want my girls to still be my best friends and still hug me. I want us all to be healthy. I wanna be in love with my city and if it’s not too much to ask… I kinda wanna be working with something fun and maybe be living in my own house?

Here I go again, people… shooting for the stars. And once again, I know I’ll surprise myself.

Letting the memories out

I just realized I had a record. I had a record of shit that’s been going through my head from the moment we knew we were moving to Canada.

So, I imported all my old blog posts to here ‘ cause I wanted to read them again and maybe figure stuff out.

At this point I realize there’s never been anything bad going on with me, yet, I always sound scared. I think it’s about time I control that. I mean, I should be an adult by now, according to my birth certificate.

The last couple of years have been turbulent, though. We’ve moved from Brazil to Canada and we are about to move for the 4th time in Canada already, which is a LOT, considering we have only been here for 1 year and 10 months.

Apparently, I am not that good with changes and I am desperate to go home. Not the home I came from. The new one. The new place that feels like home.

Two weeks ago when we were in Montreal I was sure I had found that place.

Next year, when you read this, I will not sound scared and lost anymore.

That’s a promise.

Bed bugs

The reason why I haven’t been writing is because we have bed bugs. Well, it’s not exactly “us” as much as it is our neighbors. At one point, they came to our room through the common wall.

I am very allergic to their bites. VERY. I couldn’t close my hands when they got me.

So, I didn’t go to work most of last week and we ran away to Montreal as the house got fumigated.

I figured, if we have to leave the house, we might as well go some place we had never been and have a little vacation…

Montreal is amazing! I love it – love it – love it !

It’s not just an amazing place, I mean, Ottawa has some nice buildings as well, but Montreal is ALIVE. People are OUT on the street, riding their bikes and there’s always something going on… I am in love!

I loved seeing the old ladies together having a beer by the river, just living life.

Plus, this is gonna sound weird, but my husband pointed out that the Catholic churches make me feel at home and I totally agree with him, even though we don’t go to church… it’s a very familiar “face”. I absolutely missed it.

But my favorite part of the trip was when I stopped panicking about shit that’s not happening. I kinda forgot to panic several times ’cause I was too entertained. At one point, when we came back home, even though we were under a lot of stress ’cause the bed bugs were still there, I was able to relax. I don’t really do that often.

Then, when I went back to work and all the panic came back.

See how things relate? It’s quite obvious when I talk about it : “Stress makes me think either me or my girls are dying.” Simple, right? If I’m happy, I’m ok. But controlling this shit is far more complicated than writing that sentence.

So, there’s a lot going on and we are busy cleaning the house and putting everything in plastic bags… we also decided to move and leave the beds behind. I’ll probably be quiet for a while, but I’ll try to post!

 

People are so mean.

I like writing. I like talking to people. If I see something that I like, there’s a chance I”ll wanna talk about it, but I rarely ever do that, specially on social media.

So, this morning I randomly complemented a famous girl on Instagram. It’s stupid to talk to the people who’ll never acknowledge your existence, but I do it from time to time, whenever I’m in a good mood.

Because of that, some random woman was rude to me.

She could have been rude to anyone down the street and they’d just ignore her and keep going with their lives. But it was me and I felt like I was attacked.

People are so incredibly mean and they have no idea how they affect others by doing that. The fact that that woman criticized my compliment made me shiver.

I have panic disorder -so they say-. I hate conflict. She doesn’t know that. All she knows is that something was going wrong with her life and she decided to take it out on strangers on Instagram.

Now I am questioning everything. I’m not sure if I’m healthy anymore. I start thinking I have some kind of rare disease that’s gonna kill me in months because that’s the way my mind works whenever I see conflict and I can’t stop it.

And now I’ll suffer. For minutes, hours or even days. It’s hard to say.

I’ll suffer because those tiny words from someone I’ll never meet triggered something on my brain that I fight day and night not to trigger so I can have some peace.

But she doesn’t know that.

None of us know the ghosts the live inside other people’s heads, as we wake them up day after day.

Yes, I am over sensitive and most of the things that disturb me are only inside my head and not actually happening. But I still suffer from that, unfortunately.

Oh, how I hated the “eat pray love” lady.

I have always hated the girl from “Eat Pray Love” because I thought she was so ungrateful. She was a healthy well established woman who could just chose to not work for a year and go to the end of the world to find out what the hell it was that was missing in her life. She was doing all these amazing things but she still had the saddest narrative … like it was all so empty and pointless just because she didn’t have the right men next to her or whatever , while the rest of the women in the world, possibly with real problems, had no choice but to suck it up and get to work.

Yes, she made me angry back in the day. But I kinda get her now. A little bit.

Despite the drama and the fact that I still do think she’s ungrateful, I realized, as I come closer and close to turning 35 that I too had the luxury to make some important choices in my life.

I wanted to live in a city I absolutely loved, like I mentioned before and that was important to me. That was settled.

I also wanted to not wanna kill myself every Sunday night because the next morning I’d have to get up and go to work.

You’d think, though, that after 34 years of living inside my head I’d know myself enough to have a proper answer to the question ” what do you wanna do when you grow up” , correct?

Yeah, well, me too.

But it turns out I don’t.

If I were ever to pick the thing that I love the most and never-ever get tired of doing, the answer would be “decorating”. It’s fun, colorful, dynamic, there’s always something different… In fact, it was such a great concept that I absolutely bought it. I picked it. I became an architect.

 

And then reality came.

It turns out I liked decorating for ME and doing things I thought were pretty. Decorating for other people kinda sucked. I can’t handle people.

Ok, let’s put a big “NO-NO”  in every existing job involving clients so I can go on finding out what I wanna be.

I figured I could engage on teaching. So, I tried it.

A teacher is like an actor. I had to put on a show every time I was in front of the class to make sure I was being interesting enough that they would learn from me (and not fall asleep). I was totally fine with that part.

The problem with teaching is that some days I was tired. Sometimes I wanted to go to the bathroom, sometimes I was very hungry and sometimes I wanted to check my phone (’cause I’m a paranoid person with 2 kids)!

So, by the time I quit teaching,  I knew  wanted something that :

  1. Would allow me to take a 5 minute break whenever I needed one!
  2. Had no clients.
  3. Was more mechanical than creative (’cause I am not creative under pressure).
  4. Had flexible hours in case I slept in or the phone didn’t ring.
  5. That paid decently. Kinda.

 

So, I got my current job… which surprisingly checked all the requirements on my list and also allowed us to move from Ajax – a place I couldn’t see myself growing old in.

Isn’t life just great? Am I happy enough now, or am I the bitch from “eat, pray, love” ?

Yeah, I’ll be the bitch from the book.

I wanna add things to my list and I hope that’s not a crime. I mean, I hope that’s not me being ungrateful for the things I have.

By the time this project is done and I’m off job-hunting I’ll look for something exciting, life-changing, world-changing, I’ll design video-games and have time to paint!

Yeah, bad example. I still don’t know what my awesome job will be. But if I showed you that list above just 2 years ago when I was living in Brazil and added “live in a first world country”  to it… you’d also say I’m a dreamer.

It turns out I don’t hate the ” eat  pray  love ” lady. It turns out I too am her. In my very own version… and I cannot wait to read my book!

juliaroberts