What I’m Looking For

The best part of saying “this is the LAST time” is changing your mind.

That said, I have found the perfect thing to do on my last morning here in beautiful Belo Horizonte. Ok, so it really isn't all that ground breaking that I would be reading the New York Times, but the article (or group of stories, really) that I found could not be a more fitting close. “The Lives They Loved” is a collection of short obituaries written by family members or loved ones and accompanied by a photo. No, I'm not dying, and no, I'm not overly morbid, but as I was reading, I was overwhelmed by two things: One, my life is not nearly over yet (I hope!), and two, I could not be making a better decision–now is definitely the right time to return.

I know that people often say nicer things in obituaries than were the reality, but as I was reading folks saying things like: “I never heard him say a mean thing about another person,” and “she saw potential in everyone she met” I realized that some goals are just not within my reach. I'm just being honest with myself–I am far from perfect, and I'm okay with that, most of the time. But I have no regrets either, and I look back on much of my life, including these last four years here in Brasil with joy and thankfulness.

And if there is one thing I have learned from the culture here in Minas, it is the importance of family. Yes, there have been many occaisions where the blind devotion I have observed in many Brazilian families has seemed absurd, crazy, time-consuming and burdensome. But there is beauty in extremity, and in the end, don't we all want to be able to tell unforgettable stories about those that we loved? Well, that's what I want, and just like any good story, this next one will require proximity, patience, and sacrifice before it can be well-told.

So, this morning as I was reading and drinking my coffee, my son came into the room, and with my emotions running high I grabbed him from reading the Guiness Book of World Records to hug him tightly. “Are you ready, buddy?” I asked, with the full weight of what is to come. I waited. “Well, I really have to go to the bathroom now.” Sigh. I guess we aren't all looking for the same thing.

Thanks so much, Brasil, it was worth every sacrifice. Now we are off to learn some new stories. Grande Abraço!

Foi inesquecível pra todos nós.



Iron pipes, toilets, empty bathrooms, and flowers…Happy Easter!

Life is complicated. People are complicated. Yelling does not seem to ease these complications, and yet many times when both life and people meet me, it is very easy for the yelling part to just, well, come out. Take today for example,

You knew this was leading somewhere, didn’t you?

My current living situation has offered me a vast array of challenging situations with which to build up my severe lack of patience (I think I have already mentioned this, but I fear it may be a reoccurring theme). The knock on my door this morning was no different, and was, in fact a continuation of a situation that has become particularly, for lack of a better word in English, “enrolado”. It was the owner of my apartment who had arrived to inform me that although no one could come and move the enormous piles of dirt and rusty iron pipes from my back porch, if I wanted to, I could move them myself to an area of my apartment building which has been specially reserved for this type of storage. She even brought the key.

So kind of her you are thinking, no doubt. Yes, I know.

Well, although I might have accepted if I were some kind of international body builder (or maybe even just a mildly strong person), I decided to decline–my own physical body health is something that I prize, and I know my limits. I could have left it at that, said “Happy Easter!” and sent her on her way, but that would not have made for such an interesting story. And apparently I go for the interesting stories. I proceeded next, somewhat calmly at this point, to inform her that I would not be moving the three ton plastic bags full of iron ore from my back porch, and let her know that I was quite disturbed that at this point, after two long months of being without a second bathroom, that we were being asked to shoulder yet another inconvenience as we were hoping to have a beautiful Easter party tomorrow on our porch and the rusted pipes, dirt, and shitty plastci bags did not go with our Easter party theme.

Yes, you guessed it. By the end of that sentence, I was no longer “calm.”

She asked me to calm down (in a very calm voice, I might add). That was the trigger. I let her have the rest of the two months (maybe more?) of pent up anger that were building inside of me: the injustice of paying full rent for a less than full apartment, the constant problems that don’t get resolved, the promises that go unfulfilled, all of it. Everything. And in the end? I think perhaps we both learned a few things about each other. The dirt is gone, thanks, in part to Nilson, a neighborhood drunk that she hired, and to the help of my daughter’s drawing teacher (he got more than he bargained for, for sure). I said I was sorry, went to the store for some beer (we were going to a party later), and also brought back a pink Gerbera daisy for her as an Easter/I’msosorryIhadtoyellatyoubutitworkeddidn’tit gift. By the way, there’s still a toilet on my back porch, but I’m okay with that. It goes with our theme.