Every night, before I put myself to sleep, I thought about that place. The streets, the people, my former teachers. I Imagined myself walking around and going back to the stores I once couldn’t afford to buy anything.
In my mind, there was always a sense of victory, if I could go back, and show everyone the new me. I would do it in style. I will never forget the day that a boy from my school, look at me and say “If you want to be beautiful, you have to be born again”.
My only plan was to leave that place.
I haven’t thought about having a career, money, or any type of what is considered “success” in the eyes of society. I just wanted to leave and the rest I could figure later.
And I left.
After many years of living in the States, I’m now married, and with the life, I built to myself, a life based on a day by day achievements. I didn’t get rich, and it’s not a life based on what money could buy if I worked 70 hours a week.
I learned fast that nothing of that “hard work” matters if you are not happy with what you are doing. Eventually, you end up sick and depress, with a house full of stuff you don’t need. Stuff you bought to fill spaces that were missing in your life.
I live in a 1 bedroom apartment while working part-time and I’m still able to travel internationally two times a year. Ask me how. I would probably don’t know the answer.
Back to Basis.
On this last trip, I decided to take a few days from Vitoria, where my mom lives, and back to Rio de Janeiro. The jungle that raised me, that made me who I’m today.
It was the most eye-opening trip of my life. At the end of the trip, I was emotionally exhausted, but it was all worth it. Seeing my friends, and receive a long hug, that hug you receive from friends who have known you your entire life. It hits you differently. When friends that you consider family: “That’s Joana, I know her how she is” It brings you back to the ground.
Living in the United States for the past nine years, part of me lacks having my references. What I mean by that is, having people actively participate in my stories, or create new ones.
I have friends who can tell my stories for me. Because they were there.
In Rio, If I’m telling a story, it’s guarantee a friend will add to it, sometimes is nonsense, but still participates. If I have to tell a story here in the States, first they will not get any of my references, and second, they will not listen because it’s not interesting to them.
I do have friends here, but they are always too busy in their chaos to have time to hang out. Here in the States, time is money. In my country, we have no money, It is what it is, so we just hang out freestyle.
While walking around those streets, I saw my younger self, the one who used to be brave. The me that was not always in the shadows, afraid of getting yelled at “go back to your country” and then I realized what it was.
My country, my culture, my language.
Brasil is my country, my language, my culture. Something I will never have in the States. The United States, feels like a borrowed beautiful dress, that I want to, but it doesn’t fit me. Almost like Cinderella’s shoes, that I somehow made it fit. It hurts, it’s never going to be comfortable, but I still insist on wearing it.
I went on a crusade of places I wanted to show my husband. My school, the building I used to live in, the mall I used to hang out at, the Chinese food parlor I used to take my broken ass to eat after school. It was so cheap, I used to question where the meat was coming from. The tale of the pigeon sandwich. I will write about this some other day.
We had three days filled with emotions, trying to find cheap places to eat because after all, I still consider myself a local and refuse to pay more because I have a gringo by my side. I did pay for overpriced pizza at the mall, but it was one time, and I was ok with that.
My mom was there too and, it was priceless to be able to see her coming back to our place. I have to dedicate an entire post about what to do in Rio, in 3 days. There is a lot I want to say.
I have a place in this world.
Going back to Rio made me realize, that yes, I have a place in this world. A place where I don’t need to worry about making mistakes and be deported, or feeling unwanted like I don’t belong. A place where I have friends and family. Part of me got back to the United States with a less worrying feeling. If anything happened, I would have a place that I used to call home.
I missed the feeling from when I used to run those streets. Rio is the only place on earth that if I don’t have a phone or if my phone dies I can still go around, and get to places. No questions asked.
There is no way it will not take me another nine years to come back. In the next post, I’m going to write about my 72 hours in Rio and all the cool stuff we were able to do.
Stay tuned, stay safe, and be healthy.
And keep living out loud too!