My last days in Brazil crawled by in a characteristically Brazilian way. I worked, I sweated, I counted the days.
I got a massage that would, in my mind, help work out some of the year-old knots that had accumulated along my shoulder blades as a sort of you-made-it prize. Instead, I was told to take my clothes off in a fluorescently-lit room in front of two women. I did, and lay face-up on a glorified hospital gurney while a woman lightly rubbed lotion on 95% of my body, including my stomach and ass. My boobs were spared, thank God. She played relaxing music through her iPhone, which kept on beeping because she was receiving text messages, which she would then take a brief interlude to check. It was physically tiring keeping myself from laughing. I’d say it was still worth the 18 dollars.
What kept me going at the end was the English conversation group I held weekly. It was through these internally-motivated, bookish nerds that I felt true kinship with Brazilians for the first time since I had arrived in February. We’d all stay hours after the official conversation hour had ended, talking about plots and lyrics and thinking critically about Brazilian culture and its future. One of their grandmothers made a delicious brigadeiro cake for my surprise farewell party. I’m truly grateful for these people, and will have to remind myself when I move to Rio to seek their kind out, and not to get discouraged if I don’t find them right away. They don’t like to be the center of attention, but they become the center of my attention once I find them.
During the last meeting we had, I put a pile of books in the middle of the table. I told them they could take any they wanted, because they were too heavy to take back with me. They looked at me incredulously, swiped at them, voraciously read their backs, traded for others. They were ecstatic to receive them, because books are so expensive in Brazil. They told me of a man who had been sitting out in the main hallway of the university selling his own book collection for cheap because he was dying. They had bought them all up. I regretted not having more to give them.
And so I left. The weeks of counting down finally turned into days, which have all already passed. Every day I count down the days like that I am ignoring the present and counting down towards death. I think I hate that most about myself. My life is a series of counting down towards other, more promising things that eventually become the less promising present, replaced by some other sparkling future.
There is not one thing I miss about Brazil, and so my reentry couldn’t be easier. Everything right now is perfect: my family, my new nephew, all my favorite food, Thanksgiving, Target. It takes going away to appreciate what you had without trying, what you’ve always had. My hometown looks like District 12 and camouflage made a love child, but right now, I’m ok with that. I just hope that I’ll be ready to go back to Brazil in two months. It almost seems foolish, like I’m trying food for the second time that I’ve already tried and know I don’t like that much. But Brazil is a big place, and I’m willing to be swayed.