Friday, September 26, 2008

The winding road

"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line." Therefore, I make as many turns as possible.

I arrived in Porto Alegre six months ago today. I don’t have a sweeping and elegantly composed reflection on my experiences thus far. Rather, each day I think a lot about the things I like and the things I don’t. I think about my path and how I can walk it with the most integrity. If there is one bold statement for me to make on this anniversary of sorts, it is that I hardly know what I’m doing with my life tomorrow, let alone how I see things unfolding over the next several months or years, and I’m okay with that. This is a fact which, in itself, is fascinating to me given my nature to be a compulsive planner, list-maker, and idea-factory. I guess that today, I’m proud of my improved ability to float.

So, back to the little things…

When I was in Chicago I would daydream about the fruit, the sun, the stadium visits, and the time to wander around. Though each of these little things has been appreciated since my flight landed, I realize that I can do better. I can try a little harder, while I’m floating, to not take these things for granted.

The weather has been lovely. Seventy-five degrees give or take with lots of sunshine. I walked more this week, camera at the ready, and took loads of pictures of strange trees and flowers. I visited my turtles in Parcão.

I’ve been experimenting with dates and figs, and waking up a little earlier to make my own coffee and eat a mango. I am trying to stick to the greener end of the buffet livres and walk to my classes and social appointments. I try to be aware of the warm sun and light on my face, closing my eyes, righting my posture and breathing deeply.

I swam my usual mile in the Olympic-sized pool for the first time, which seems very long when you’re used to a 50m lap. (Though I am not bothered by the saline in the shorter pool, I didn’t miss it either.) I also bought a new suit when I embarrassingly realized that the butt of my old one is transparent enough to be just-this-side-of-obscene.

I learned a little more Portuguese, including some of the catchy tunes of the 8 candidates in next weeks’ mayoral election.

This week I became a Sócio of my team, Internacional. I receive ticket discounts and the perk of being able to purchase early, so I was able to secure my place in the stadium for Sunday’s big GreNal a day before the public sale. I also received a nifty plastic membership card. Neat!

Tomorrow after classes I’ll meet some girlfriends for feijoada (a traditional stew of black beans and various bits of meat) and a walk past Usina Gasômetro and the riverfront. In the early evening I’ll head to a free concert. There’s an alt-rock band from Montevideo called “Dante Inferno” playing Santander Cultural for the closing night of an urban art and culture exhibit called Transfer. I saw the exhibit a few weeks ago and was really impressed.

Here’s a photo of a temporary skate park, if you will, installed in Santander, that gorgeous building I’ve featured many times.

Flashback: Speaking of temporary skate parks… my high school chum, Danielle, and I used to hang out with (read: have enormous crushes on) these skaters. The ringleader of the misfits, Sage, was a really bright guy. I remember his frustrated mom once joked with me, “too bad he doesn’t use his powers for good instead of building homemade tattoo guns from household items.” Yeah. So, one night, Sage et al stole several bulky sheets of plywood from a construction site about a mile down the road and, not-so-clandestinely skated back home with them in the middle of the night. With the loot, they set about building a rather large half pipe in the yard. Not one to bother with sketches or plans, Sage just worked out the design and construction process seamlessly in his head. What a prankster. His long-suffering Mom was right though—he’s in prison now.

And that has nothing to do with Brazil. Or maybe, somehow, it does.