On Friday, April 15th, 2016, I received a congratulatory email from the Fulbright Association. The email explained that I would experience a drastic change of scenery on Monday, February 13th, 2017: the date of the mandatory orientation for all American Fulbright English teaching assistants in São Paulo, Brazil. My government and Brazil’s government had approved of me, just a young lady graduate, to teach in a federal Brazilian university. Expenses paid. Visa fee waived. I felt infinite in a way. A high point of 2016.
The first person I remember calling was my mother. I heard her shout over the phone: “She’s going to Portugal!” A funny point of 2016.
The second person I called was my boyfriend at the time. He congratulated me, and I could feel the warmth in his voice over the phone. He didn’t sound surprised or upset that I’d be moving to another country for nine months. Just happy, supportive, loving. We broke up a few weeks after that phone call. We weren’t really surprised, just upset. A profoundly sad point of 2016.
Let me break my 2016 self down:
- I believe my education comes first: before everyone, before me, before my fears.
- I believe I must learn about the world no matter how uncomfortable or lonely.
- I believe in a two year old LDR with a lovely bearded man named James.
- I believe in my cushy day-to-day in an on-campus apartment/fully furnished campus.
- I believe in bills that my grandfather and parents pay.
- I believe in every luxury available to me.
- I believe in spending most of my time alone, in privacy and quiet, focusing on my problems and my growth as a human being.
- I believe in God when it suits me.
- I believe in me.
What I’m doing and feeling now:
- Sleeping, studying (Netflix), dreaming
- Wondering, getting anxious, getting elated
- Losing faith in lasting bonds between men and women
- Living in south New Jersey, no classes, no campus
- Making little at a library, paying little at home
- Running through the trail next to the house, elated, luxury
- Living in my parents’ house, sharing a room, sharing my friends’ problems, sharing my parents’ problems, sharing my family’s problems, sharing resentment, being completely cared for and loved
- Believing in God is attractive and hard to do, like believing in Santa when you start doing the math
- Believing in me?
Things change on you. One minute you’re thinking Obama is swell, that another Clinton in office wouldn’t be terrible, that you’re naturally organized and scheduled, that friendships and love won’t fade or change or become burdensome to you, and that grad school for English/a move to Maine, the most northeastern state in the States, is the best thing for you. You’ve got a grown out pixie cut and you’ve taken to wearing long skirts.
Things that never were can’t change. Relationships must change. Obama was swell and President-Elect Trump will be inaugurated this month. I’m naturally a sloth. My friendships seem to animorph from week to week. Love has faded into this bizarre dream that gets a little blurrier every morning. I fall in and out of it every month, with no one and everyone. I’m moving to Brazil, deep in South America, not to study English, but to teach it. I’ve got a septum piercing and a sweet short bob I dye red every month.
The New Year was strange: the night before it, the night of it. I didn’t know there would be years when the person you wanted to see and hear would be invisible, distant. I didn’t know how mundane and glittering my mind could be.
I decided well before the New Year to go to Brazil early, spend a month in Rio de Janeiro, dive headfirst into Portuguese and Brazilian culture. All the ticket dates and hostel bookings end in January 2017. I’ve been waiting eight months for this. I’ve been editing this blog forever and I’ve been trying to prepare myself for this move.
It hit me today: there is no real preparation. I can expect, plan, pack. But what do I know? What do I really know? What if I become invisible, distant? What if I animorph into some entirely new animal?
In two weeks I’ll be flying to Florida with my mother. From Florida I’ll fly to Houston. From Houston I’ll fly to Rio de Janeiro on January 23rd. At Rio’s airport I’ll meet one of my dearest friends from home. A champion of friendship and a knockout: Moira, called Mo. She’s one person of many that I’d like to take with me. We’ll be exploring Rio together and I’ll be uploading our adventures here. I’m so grateful, so very stoked she’s coming. We’re a funny pair.
This is the way I thought/think I want to live my life. Planning for the future, writing about the past in the present. Traveling, speaking other languages, loving whoever, leaving whoever, feeling alone and unattached.
But I feel terribly afraid to detach and I don’t feel infinite.
I guess I’ll push beyond those two feelings. Feelings are finite after all.