All ends well

new-beginning

This liquid that warms my throat tastes like the life I want. As I sip my coffee, sitting on the balcony, looking at the bluest of LA’s skies, I come to terms with this year. Sometimes, you need destruction to come up with something completely new. I did not want this, but here it is. What am I going to do with it?

I used to think life shouldn’t be defined at once. You didn’t “have to” be something forever. Your life didn’t “have to” be crystallized. You could reinvent yourself over and over again. In a way, this still holds true; but I underestimated the powers that be. I overestimated how much control we have over what happens to us. What really defines us is how we react to it. How many years till you break all that keeps breaking you? I’m fighting to rise up to the occasion.

In the process of resisting the storm, I’m discovering a lot about myself that I didn’t know. If only I don’t bend and break. I’m also looking at those who surround me in a different light. The things that used to bother me, the upsets, the rules, nothing applies anymore. In the grand scheme of things, life is one tortuous journey where goodness comes in pieces that must be cherished and appreciated.

I must finish this year in gratitude. Take my hand, not my picture. I’m grateful for having such a wonderful, supportive family, who will absolutely be there for me in any situation — who will tell me how much they love me and how they’ll always have my back. They are my treasure, and I’m blessed.

I’m grateful for my friends, new and old, who go out of their way to make sure I don’t fall off the cliff. Who text and call from afar, letting me know they’re thinking of me, letting me know I have a nest of love and friendship waiting for me at all times. I’ll forever be in awe of people who like me. I’ll try to be a better friend in the future. You deserve all of my heart.

I’m grateful for doing what I love. This profession I chose mentally when I was 9 and that I’m still doing. This job that allowed me to travel around the world and see wonderful things first hand.

I’m grateful for being at peace with my age, at last. Youth is not a quality, it is a state. It will evolve, and we must not attach too much meaning to it. I’m wiser, and I don’t regret the way I lived so far. I’ve got many regrets — what I did with my younger years is not one of them.

There is a certain freedom in failure. My fear, when I was in my twenties, was that I’d grow older alone. That I’d find myself in my late thirties unmarried, with no children, still unsure of what to do with my life. Helas, there I am. Divorced, with no children, absolutely no idea what to do with my life. So, now that what I feared has actually happened, I’m kind of free. The things I thought could go wrong went wrong.

But I’ll end with this: you can’t lose what you don’t have. I didn’t lose anything; I just haven’t gotten it yet.

Here’s to a brave new year. I will be better. I will be stronger. If you believe in nothing else, just keep believing in yourself. 

 

Retrospection

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I filled the bathtub with warm water and soaked myself in it. Closed my eyes for a minute, running this year through my head. Sat on my knees, placed my hands forward, and just let myself cry. It had been a long time since I’d cried like this. Since I felt this vulnerable. The catharsis allowed me to roll straight to bed and fall asleep without having to fight the demons that now come late at night, keeping my mind awake when it should be resting.

This moment might sum up the final stretch of 2016, a year full of change and hardship, but it is not who I am.

And maybe that’s exactly why I allowed myself to break down this time. Because I never do. Because I suck it up, get inside my walls, resist the storm and protect myself like a hedgehog.

I’m attracted to order, rules, organization, to-do lists, clarity, honesty, bluntness, getting things right. All of that failed me this year. Being honest got me nowhere. For people who trade in games and secrets will see you through their lenses; and so, my truth and honesty seemed like a con.

Some of them chose to kick me when I was down. I hold no grudges. But I won’t forget.

End of the beginning

beginning

I used to be haunted by nightmares. They were rare but brutal; sometimes, I would dream of horrible things unraveling in my life, propelling me to situations I couldn’t come back from. Then I would wake up, breathing heavily, only to realize I was safe. It didn’t happen; things were all right. That place of anguish that comes with things that cannot be taken back would vanish, until the next nightmare. I can recall a handful of them. They were rare. But brutal.

2016 was a truckload of crap. I encountered myself in a reverse situation: the reality was the nightmare, dreams were my safety. Dozing off into dreamland would temporarily suspend the brutality of what was happening to me when I was awake. I tried to be resilient. I tried to keep my heart intact. I tried to recover from the year of my discontent.

My mother, who knows everything, has told me multiple times that some hurdles in life are meant to be survived. You have to live through them; no one can take them away until you’ve lived through them. There’s a lesson or a blessing, they say. What if there’s nothing to be taken away from suffering? What if it happens to you because well, fuck you, that’s why?  

I’ve often gone back and forward in my religious beliefs. I still don’t really know what I truly believe in. I have, however, felt a great need to reignite my Faith of late. To believe in something greater, something just, to imprint some meaning into the otherwise completely random chain of negative events that have plagued my life this year. I find myself asking for a sign, asking for Light. I find myself wanting, so bad, to believe. There is a comfort in Faith that I wish I could achieve.

I could ask for a Christmas miracle, but I feel like so many others deserve it more than I do. I’m alive, I’m well, I have a roof and food on my plate, my heart is intact. These roadblocks in my way might change the course of my life, but they won’t change who I am and what I have.

And that is, simply put, love. Love is what I’m here for. In the end, we won’t remember the days spent working like dogs nor the nights potatoing away in a lonely couch. I will remember the hour-long conversations with my mom over Skype, and the lovely iMessages from my sister. I will remember the arms that hugged me when I was broken, and the smiles I got when I showed up for a dinner party. I’ll remember the post-it note with a hearty message left by my roommate, and the joy a scarf brought to my beautiful friend. I’ll remember the songs sang to me in the purest of moments. I’ll remember being there, in those moments, knowing there is no future. There is only eternal present.

Gratitude

I look outside and there is a light waiting for me, on this day of giving thanks for all the blessings in my life. The year is almost over, and how different has my life become. It might’ve been the worst year yet if I looked at all the trials and tribulations. The bad luck. The red tape. The loss of love. The steps back.

But no, it wasn’t bad. It was just hard. For every bad thing that happened to me this year, something good came along. The friends who became family away from home; the small victories that made me work twice as hard; getting up before sunrise just to slow down the passage of time; all the great people I’ve met and have enriched my life beyond comprehension. This great American life is filled with obstacles, but no tears. I am grateful for it. 

I walk outside and it smells like life. It tastes like home. It fills my heart with the warmth of knowing I am home.

So I’m thankful for the friends who held me when I needed the most, the ones who are far away but haven’t forsaken me, the amazing family that keeps me going every day. The people I work with. This job that is a self-perpetuating art, constantly generating its own inspiration.

I really understood, in this year of chaos and rebirth, that I am too young to be afraid and too old to wait any longer. Happiness, sadness, forever, whenever, is all happening now. I embrace it.

It’s the price to pay for dreaming out loud and persevering through the storm.

Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S.: Eat tofurkey.

Never enough

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The words came as a gust of cold wind, the kind that turns your umbrella inside out and exposes you to the icy rain. There it was, in that short, calm message. One more ending. A period sign punctuating the change of direction towards never. Calculated words of termination. I looked in the mirror and saw myself in the past, dealing with different names but the same outcome. You are so amazing. You are unique. You are so rare. What I am, is never enough. All the stories I have in me, all the lives that I’ve lived, the lessons I carry with me, my personality, my soul, my heart, the soft tips of my fingers caressing away silent tears, none of it is enough. That message carried the weight of so many feelings from the past. It embodied a self-fulfiling prophecy that haunts my head every time I fall in love. Will I be enough, this time? Will we be out of the woods soon? Be yourself, do you, be real and honest and raw and emotional and let yourself go, they tell me.

But no, not that way. Don’t be yourself like that. Be yourself like I want you to, or I’ll leave because you, well you are not enough.

I’ve always felt like I was disposable. Like all these great things they saw in me were like that scenery you admire while driving somewhere. Look, that’s beautiful! That’s grandiose! That’s rare! You stare in awe for a few moments, but you do not want to stay there. You’re on your way to somewhere else.

I am nowhere, not somewhere.

Grão de café

Sento-me aqui cinco anos depois de ter passado o meu aniversário sozinha em Las Vegas.  A Sin City tem esta magia que às vezes é infernal e noutras salvadora. Se há cidade em que se consegue estar sozinha sem estar só é aqui.

Dei-me conta também, a queimar os últimos cartuchos com 35 anos, que deixei de me importar com muitas coisas. Aquela vergonha típica que trouxe de Portugal está lentamente a desaparecer. So fucking what? A vida é demasiado curta para ter receio de dizer ou fazer as coisas. Que se f*da. Que se f*da é o mote perfeito para o ano que se avizinha.

Portanto estou aqui, em Las Vegas, a morar em Los Angeles. A vida deu tremendas cambalhotas. Testou-me.

Estava no outro dia a pensar que o ano passou a correr, que nem sabia bem o que fiz. Mas aconteceu imenso, e a vida mudou completamente. Preciso de a registar, para saber que estive aqui, vivi isto, ultrapassei esta tempestade, e estou agora a remar contra a corrente – e já vejo a praia. Vou chegar a bom porto, tenho a certeza. Com todos os azares e malquerenças que me têm afligido, tem havido sempre uma mão protectora a cuidar de mim. Muito agradeço, meu anjo da Guarda, minha Santa Rita, meu Senhor Jesus, estrelas, planetas ou o Universo inteiro. Muito agradeço por me ampararem quando eu precisei e todas as minhas pessoas estavam longe.

Um brinde a este novo ano, cheio de grãos de café e aroma a aventura. 

O copo meio cheio 

Há um simbolismo nestes dias de fins e de começos de que gosto em particular, porque sou dada a rituais. Olhar para trás e pensar na catarata que foi este ano de 2015 faz parte do exercício – se não parar para o registar, terei compreendido mesmo o que se passou? Terei aprendido alguma coisa? 

Não, o ano não passou a correr. Nós é que desperdiçámos muito tempo. O ano percorreu-nos o corpo com a mesma parcimónia de sempre, mas não estivemos cá para o sentir. Andámos fechados à frente do computador, metidos no trânsito, a espumar da boca à frente de maus programas de televisão, a navegar no Facebook feitos asnos pela noite dentro, hipnotizados pela luz do ecrã do telemóvel. A trabalhar dias inteiros, semanas a fio, com um desequilíbrio tremendo entre a vida que queremos viver e aquela a que somos obrigados. 

 
Disse “basta” muitas vezes, porque tenho a noção do que é preciso fazer. Mas a mudança chega devagarinho. Aquele Sábado em que se desliga o computador, aquela sexta à noite em que não se respondem a emails, as caminhadas à volta do bairro à hora do almoço para cheirar as flores e apanhar sol. Tenho esta ansiedade de querer organizar os dias e perpetuamente sentir que me escapam ao controlo. O que se torna tarefa hercúlea quando se vive com um amante do caos, uma mente criativa que não se importa com a confusão, um homem que continua a ensinar-me o que é o amor e porque é que tudo isto vale a pena. 
Este ano houve do melhor e do pior. Tive um casamento de sonho e o calor de Miami em Fevereiro. Óscares, tapetes vermelhos e oportunidades que nunca pensei conseguir. As maiores conferências do mundo que me deixaram de rastos, mas com a certeza de que faço o que gosto. Tive Coachella. Disney. Silicon Valley. Santa Mónica, Runyon Canyon e Las Vegas. 

Foi difícil estar longe da minha terra, da família e dos amigos, da gente que sabe quem eu sou e de onde venho. Foi mais duro que o imaginado. Mas foi esse o peso da minha decisão. Agora tenho duas casas, e terei sempre saudades daquela onde não estiver. 

Aprendi muito em 2015. Agora espero saber usar esse conhecimento para que 2016 seja melhor, mais significativo, com menos desperdício de vida. Um brinde a mais um começo. Que eu seja capaz de olhar para o copo e vê-lo meio cheio, à espera de ser saboreado. 

E a vocês, que vejam no copo o que bem entenderem. Caramba, espetem com ele no chão se vos der na gana. Bom ano! Que seja dos bons.