Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pre-election, post-inclusion: My 1st Brazilian Family

Something cool happened tonight.

First, a throwback. I've been visiting Brazil, reading about Brazil, and/or living in Brazil for about six years now. Of course it all started with an ex-love... but from him I didn't learn much about the country's history or culture. No, I learned on my own. I'm proud of my perseverance in this regard, because I believe it sets me apart from a lot of people. I mean no insult in the observation that, of course, when one falls in love with someone from a culture/country different from one's own, most are inclined to learn about that foreign place/identity. Rather, my objective is to note that, when that relationship works, the learning curve is probably a smoother road. In my case, however, and quite in line with my general life experience--everything. moves. in. reverse.

So I fall in love. I get destroyed. And *then* I continue my passion for the other culture. I throw myself to the wolves by moving, alone, to a place where I don't speak the language, don't understand the nuances that are plainly obvious to everyone else, and struggle daily to acclimate to a truly foreign world.

I think this might be the first time I have given myself credit for this battle (and to face it, it has been a battle)--in my own mind, let alone publicly. But I am proud of myself, for this otherworldly expedition. And tonight, for the first time, I felt really rewarded. I felt really included.

Eu, Carolina, e Neida - olha, já tomamos muito vinho: 'tamos meio-bêbadas então...

Sunday is election day in Brazil. More specifically, the day of the run-off election for the next President. On Friday, Neida (Carol's mom) and Leila (Carol's aunt and my friend/Portuguese teacher) came to stay with us (Carol, Mari, and I) for the weekend. We have been living it up: eating at the nicest french/baiana/arabian restaurants. We shopped at the weekend street fairs and wandered the cutest streets in the neighborhood. And at the end of the day, we sit around talking about everything under the sun, not the least of which, the election.

But as we opened another bottle of wine tonight I had a realization: I was being included in a family discussion. Polemic and feisty, sometimes calm and sometimes agitated, but all the time--I was included. I listened, I understood--and when I didn't understand, they invited me back into the fold with an explanation. For the first time in all of my "Brazilian experience," I felt like I was part of a family here in Brazil. And uau! (wow!) what an amazing triumph. It has been a long time coming, and a lot harder-won than many, but I'm getting there. I am becoming a part of the place which has been a part of me for years.

Neida and Leila with mouths full at Consulado da Bahia

Me. Satisfied.