The Fantasy Routine

On Mondays I start creating a collection of water glasses in my room. I put ground coffee and cinnamon and coconut sugar in a coffee filter and I pour hot water over it. I drink the coffee, fry a banana with cinnamon, and grill slices of orange cake with butter (I’ve just started waking up before 11. My roommate is shocked to see me alive before noon). I eat everything. I put my dirty pillowcases, several pairs of socks, some t-shirts and a sweat infused cloth head band into a pink bucket of soapy water and these items soak for a day. Or seven. Then I go to the supermarket, early: eggs, coffee, spinach, maybe spices, maybe grape juice, no lines. Some hours pass, and I teach an English night class at 8:00. Some Mondays I like it. Other Mondays I don’t. I speak a lot of Portuguese on Mondays—just because I run errands on this day and translate all the classroom instructions from English at night. I feel like another person, maybe less foreign.

I have a plant, a succulent, named after Tuesday because it’s my favorite day. I spend time with the same 5-6 people at conversation club Tuesday evenings. I enjoy the 30 minute walk to campus, and the 30 minute walk home. I listen to King Krule when I’m happy, or the Lumineers when I want to transport myself back to New England. Rap when I want to be in New York City. I listen to the Mountain Men when I miss my family. I don’t listen to anything when I miss my old flames or my friends. I stay quiet through that. I almost always imagine fighting crime or being thin like I was in high school, or being home—which could be 1 of 5 places depending on what person from my life I’m stuck on that day.

On Wednesdays I must do something. . .maybe I become another person or I travel to the United States or to space. . .I’m not 100% on what happens on Wednesdays.

Some Thursdays I give cultural talks or I attend one.

Some Fridays I give workshops early in the morning for English teachers. I also show an American movie to any of the students willing to watch. I try to pick movies they haven’t seen, movies that highlight the more awful, realistic aspects of the USA: poverty, sexism, racism. Really, I’d just like to diminish this idea in Viçosa, among the university population, that the US is a perfect place with Iphones, endless money, police protection, and opportunity for all. I think if other countries realize we’re just people like them with problems and imperfections, they’ll stop placing America on a pedestal, and Americans might realize that we don’t belong on one. I’ve shown the The Homesman, American Honey, and I think next week it will be a documentary on the artist Rodrigues called Searching for Sugar Man.

Some Friday nights I decide to make some dish I’ve tried in Brazil that I must stop paying for at restaurants. Risoto, for example.

Saturdays I am myself and wake around noon. Sometimes at night I catch a sequel of some film without having watched the first movie. This has happened three times in Brazil: Fast and Furious 8 (who doesn’t love the Rock?); Fifty Shades Darker (at least it was filmed in Seattle, which reminded me of Portlandia’s rival city, which allowed me to zone out to Fred Armisen yelling “Cacao”); and, most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy II.  (As I watched that movie, I thought about little gods who just want to inhabit their own planets. And I thought of God, who made a planet for little people and left. I thought that maybe people created God in the same way that my mother—carefully—and my father—carelessly—may have created me. Then I got uneasy and I thought about smoking weed, but instead  I imagined that I was a super hero fluent in Portuguese)

I have a plant for Sunday, as well. His name is Sunday. He is a cactus. Sunday is holy and painful because I end up writing on Sunday.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was little. And I’ve been holding my own hand all this time, trying to avoid making a reality out of my fantasy, even though most of my reality is, without a doubt, a fantasy—or at least this is what a friend tells me. Mostly it’s laziness. I don’t feel like communicating anything because it’s work, and I like napping. I get very introverted, philosophical on Sundays. Sometimes I plan for the week, but mostly I avoid my responsibilities and drink coffee until I get the jitters and I go for a glass of water but realize all the cups are dirty in my room. So I sigh. Sundays are for washing all the cups, too.

Every night of the week, when I lie down to sleep, I know that I have no interest in pursuing a career in social justice or government, as many of my bright Fulbright colleagues do. Jobs in these fields are strenuous, noble.

I belong in a classroom, or a library. This is no less noble, I suppose. But, I still feel lost and eager to find purpose.

At night, I realize that I am young. Just a new baby star. I have childish tendencies. I can be flighty. I feel lonely, but I actually prefer to be alone. I rush into things, and then I rush out of them. I make promises I can’t keep and I force myself to keep promises to people who’d rather I break them.

I struggle with being too direct every day of the week.

I struggle to be honest every day of the week.

I struggle to make new friends every day of the week.

I struggle to be understood every day of the week.

I like going to the post office early mornings, sealing my letters with clear sticky paste. I like the market across the street that stays open to the public, even on Sundays. There are no double doors, just multiple garage looking doors the workers raise at 7 every morning. I love lunch time, a two hour period of relaxation filled with lasagna and rice and beans and fried carrot & spinach bolinhas. I adore all the holidays here. We have at least one each month. I love the caldo the catholic church in the next square over serves every night at 8 pm. Winter soup, for free. I love the friends I spend my time with now. And, by god, I love the cheese in Minas Gerais.

But I often feel that I want to go home. And I often feel that I want to explore. I often dream of camping with my friends. Soon, I’ll have a month’s worth of vacation. I’d like to go to Argentinian Patagonia and to Uruguay, maybe feel a little more closely the edge of a cold night. 

Oh, dear reader, the more I travel around Earth the larger my mind seems to grow, and the further away home becomes, and the more I fantasize, and the more I find this sharp concentrated pleasure in my routine here in Brazil.  I imagine that I will cry when I have to say goodbye.

Would you like to know something? I like to imagine what you fantasize about. Fantasies reveal so much about our realities, don’t they? Sometimes they indicate more about us then our routines in reality. Sometimes they inform our reality more than reality itself does.

It’s okay to admit. Your fantasies probably weave in and out of your routine, dear reader, just as they do mine. 

But they also turn my world upside down, these fantasies, every day of the week—so that my routine doesn’t seem like a routine at all, so that my fantasies seem as mundane or obscene or familiar as any Wednesday or forgotten hour of the week.