Interval

When I first arrived in Canada, I was baffled by the amount of space. There was space between buildings, where you could see a heavy sky pregnant of snowstorms, the space between people to look in the eye and speak to, the space between relatively safe floats in an unknown sea. The hotel room, the bus stop, the bank, the half-familiar taxi driver. I would have tried to scream and assess the extent of emptiness by counting the reverberations of my own echo, but keeping my head above water was enough to keep me busy.

So there I was, in such a stubborn and surprising polar vortex it was Formally Validated by a hashtag, in a city heavily reliant on cars and with less than a third of the population I used to be a part of, in a neighborhood that was known to be poor, with full blocks of empty houses. It was known by everybody except, of course, for ill informed newcomers. And, of course, when I arrived it wasn’t just I but we, and we were new, we had arrived but not come yet, for coming takes so long, and we still went to bed saying everything was just fine.

The apartment I, or rather, we were able to rent had indifferent peanut halves scattered around, a lingering scent of cooking oil, and a small hole in the ac cover through which tiny whirlwinds of the -25C outside would every now and then peak through. What nobody tells you about rabbit holes is that the rabbits shiver quick prayers of warmth and safety while passing the threshold, they are self inflicted blessings of memorial sun that will guide them through existing on that day, all their genes reduced to unruly exotic accent, here’s your change, have a good one. During those days there was one goal and one goal only: to come back home. Home was still full of absense but slowly and surely filling up with things that could be but weren’t yet, like new stepmothers. The space between the few pieces of furniture and the rest of the house was obscene, the contrast of what was still stiff from the store and the dusty years of layered muck daily blurred with bleach and dish detergent and sponges and anger. When the skin of my hands started peeling off, when the textbook’s yellow daffodils made no sense and he wasn’t home yet, there was silence. Not silence but lack of sounds, lack of many things, rather: lack of words to describe what lacked, lack of tastes to root senses, lack of direction because when you are not waving but rather drowning there is barely hope, there is only salt.

The local radio suggested by the app on my phone was as prickly as cacti, delivering cheerful updates on places I didn’t know, artists I had never heard of, the general extent of my otherness. Listening to Brazilian radios was more painful than waiting on the dentist’s office, I knew all those places and my skin crawled with the announced local temperature and remembrance of the distance between us. Stuck in frozen Ontario, je me souvenais. Caught in the space of not being Canadian enough, not affording to be Brazilian enough, I became, well, French. Every morning, a thick male voice would croak traffic updates of Boulevard du Montparnasse, analysis of the Algerian housing market, occasional suggestions to avoid the Châtelet and Rue du Rivoli but actually Les Halles completely if possible. I would pour almond milk in my dark roast Folgers and ignore the annoying interference of tuning in a place and time hours ahead of me, while I still had all those hours of the day to fill in. Day after day, the gutural R sounds lulled me into a novocaine contentment while I watched streaks of sunlight outline the vertical blinds and spread longer and longer distortions on the kitchen walls. One morning there was a problem in the green line, near Dugommier station. Like going bankrupt, it happened slowly, then all at once: there was a slight tingle, a phantom pain in my right foot, and it whispered how, do you remember?, I could go left for Dugommier or right for Daumesnil and, no matter what happened or where I went I knew, bien sûr, that home was the space between the two. Home was a microscopic bedroom where I laid my tired limbs for wee three nights, many years ago. You could walk from one station to the other in less than ten minutes, precisely ten if you were wearing heels, although it felt like forever when it was late in the night, and cold, and there was no hand to be held. In the space between what used to be and what is not yet there is, as there were, back in those days, empty but lived in sidewalks, chipped by the urgency of habits, and the unceasing echo of my own footsteps, doing what they know best.

champs.elysees.2012.jpeg
aux Champs-Élysées je n’ai pas dit bonjour a personne ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Spring

No mundo germânico, Palavras com Letras Maiúsculas representam visualmente uma função gramatical: olá muito prazer eu sou um substantivo e você? E prossegue num aperto de mão dominador, sabendo que o verbo pode até ser a estrela do show mas que sua mera presença o obriga a dobrar e flexionar, fazendo dele portanto o pescoço capaz de virar a cabeça-verbo para onde quiser, de modo que fica claro para todos nós quem é que manda no pedaço.

A língua inglesa, neta de segundo grau do alemão, cresceu distâncias mas por algum motivo manteve a tradição maiúscula para os meses, os dias da semana, o Eu-sujeito, no papel, e mais meia dúzia de pessoas com cabelo cor de trigo que insiste em oferecer gesundheit em vez de bless you após um espirro, na prática. Já eu, pequena, desimportante, observo quieta tantos de nós usando a técnica para destacar Sentimentos ou Promoções mais ali ao sul do mundo. As coisas ficam mais Fortes, Verdadeiras e Oficiais conforme expandem, eles disseram. Afinal de contas quem liga pra coisa mixuruca, vai ser miserável lá na casa da sua avó. E ainda, e ainda. Ainda o quê? Ora essa.

A primavera, aqui ao norte, vem lentamente e depois de uma vez só, e até planta cujo talo cede após três folhas tem a tal Permissão para existir. Mas devia, mas precisa? Acontece que spring é estação e também verbo intransitivo: brota-se e pronto. Portanto se você for Ninguém também então há um par de nós!* Como se não bastasse, spring também é mola – como em Some Like It Hot em que um dos músicos em drag mira Marylin Monroe saracoteando e solta: it’s like jello on springs! O que faz dessa época um fantasma que nos quica pra vida depois de frio enferrujante. Me faz querer brotar junto, apesar de sabermos que não há nada de novo no front. No fim do dia, o que sobra é o cheiro de chuva e de magnólia e o meu colchão springy, pois cheio de molas e, quando me dão licença, também primaveril. A gente fica e planta e torce para que as memórias de sol, se Deus quiser!, acolchoem os dias de cãimbra.

* não conte! Eles iriam anunciar. :}

do-wager

White cheese curds melt in the
black bold coffee that turns
cold, contained by the American glass
made in Brazil and bought downtown as
well as the floral fabric of the handmade dress.
In the air they impatiently move –
swollen mauve diabetic feet
the dusty hazel marbles in a slant
watch, haughty nose sniffs in tease.
Not knowing is her tempest
almost like playing by the ocean when you’re far sighted
squalid and unsure of
the tide. For how long –

Chance

I am one of the loners.

The largest room of the farthest student facility is filled with 1) Asian 2) Indian 3) African kids, some appropriately equipped with a Canada Goose coat, some with cute pen and paper kits, the hands steady and callous, all of them with a friend or two. No Tim Hortons cups. The workshop concerns the legal procedures advised to international post-graduate students. As if the millennial statistics weren’t enough, as if the hustle of being less than thirty in the search for proper employment and side hustles to pay an insane student debt weren’t enough, there are papers, taxes, systems to navigate. As if the question of now what wasn’t the shapeshifter that naturally fits under the mattress, in the denim pockets worn thin, in the tense note of parents’ voices – it’s probably just a Skype interference, though. The question is ripe with questions, a multiplicity of investigations, a whole life branching before the eyes like that infamous fig tree. Should I work more than forty hours a week in a meh job so I can afford furniture or should I move to Prague and create detailed, beautifully researched tours for bored, retired westerners that can’t settle down with the idea of being a part of tours with uneducated folk? Should I open a coffee&tea place with rows of drippers, bialettis, turkish coffee pots and brass samovars, or should I start making and selling brazilian treats such as coxinha, empadinha, beijinho, a mortifying list of diminutives inherited from our cherished hairy colonizers? Should I go hide at my mother’s spare bedroom? Maybe move up north and volunteer to save penguins? Fascinating creatures, they are – social bipeds in premium outfits, correctly balancing their center of gravity. Their own center. Should I get pregnant? I see a line-up of bright beads in old friends’ timelines. Perhaps cut all my hair? Piercing cartilages takes from four to twelve months to heal and the process might make you divorce your traditional pillow. Don’t ask me how I know. Should I stop eating meat? Should I donate all my clothes, cancel my credit card, live on social media reports delivered from a bargain-studio in this post-communist remote, decayed country, earning enough money for sauerkraut and chickpea cans? All these dashes and no Emily Dickinson; no harm no foul.

Apparently when I was young, before reaching the very important three-full-feet milestone that meant you were now a big girl, I used to say I’d like to have a horse as a pet. He – of course it’d be a he – would sleep under my bed and we’d go for walks when I got back from school. There is a possibility the idea was born from the neighboring circus – the lights, the colours, the fascination of their arrival, set up, and complete departure in seventy two hours; pink coupon sides and holes left from rusty beams in the dry soil being washed away by rain. Every night the chance of captivating a fresh batch of little heads and cheeks with proficient, perfected tricks, the daily repetition hatching magic, the atmosphere clicking and cracking with the scope of their soft dreams.

Did you know that figs are not even fruit? They are a funny, peculiar kind of flower, called enclosed inflorescence. Basically a flower that is born on the inside. Like dreams.

— — —
ps1: This started with a rant on meme land, otherwise known as twitter. Come say hi @ capivaracansada

ps2: Alice Munro’s Chance, a short story of an award winning book, is much, much better than this, but I thought I’d dare to take mine. No regrets.

Passaporte

Ontem à noite eu andava nas ruas do bairro vazio tomando um sacolé meio salafrário com amigos que caçavam pokemon no celular. Vira e mexe passava uma ou duas pessoas de bicicleta, paralamas reluzindo preguiçosos. Na beira do rio a brisa era salgada e fácil e eu não posso negar que cheirava também a dólares, muitos, daquele tipo que circula nas veias e nos sobrenomes desenhados no cimento. Meu avô não tinha o que calçar; espio tudo com suspeita, abrindo bem os olhos, apalpando o acabamento da calçada pelo meu solado fino. Dobro o indicador em um ângulo inconveniente a cada vez que cruzo o caminho com passos mais calmos, com homens, com lanterninhas estranhamente potentes de atletas ocasionais. Dizem que quanto mais para a beira d’água e para o oeste se vai, mais barra pesada a coisa fica – mas não para mim, nunca para mim, oxalá-creio-em-deus-pai. A pobreza, todo mundo sabe, é uma fumaça escura que distorce a paisagem e se alinha com a Zug Island e seus segredos metálicos. Me lembro do comentário casual do colega de trabalho sobre retaliação violenta, do sonho americano de liberdade, da repetição preta pobre e periférica fatal, dos olhos cansados que olhei e que fugiam de fogos de artifícios como cães de colo por motivo de tiroteios e bombas passadas que a biologia, essa ingrata, não deixava esquecer. Meus amigos, meus amigos queridos que engolem venenos homeopáticos e discretos como meia fina sobre tudo neles que diverge. Mas afinal de contas que raios são esses outros; eu rezo por bandeiras que sinalizem buracos, eu torço para ter voz quando o dia chegar, alinhavo estatísticas em uma tentativa de retórica. O passaporte é uma cor primária harmonizada com uma infusão açucarada de privilégio.

Um rabino redondo e risonho certa vez me disse que se entende as coisas em três lugares do corpo: na cabeça, no coração e nas entranhas. Por causa disso eu poderia até sentir o incômodo pragmático de quando uma conta aborrecida não fecha, um pulsar mais forte do sangue talvez, mas nunca, certamente nunca viria um amargo violento na boca diante de simbolismos doloridos que alguns de nós carregamos com respeito e resignação. Então ficava combinado que essa e apenas essa era a nossa diferença. Fui embora pesada, uma nuvem gorda de chuva, sem saber que eu aprenderia a amar as diferenças e depois as pessoas que as portavam de modo que me tornaria uma extensão, uma japona que abraçava corpos decadentes e causas frágeis por que afinal de contas eu também já tive frio. Os dias aqui ainda são feitos de disparidades, gratidão e disparidades, vocês não se enganem. Os sapatos, é claro, seguem gastos e tortos.

com polpa

Faço parte dessa safra de pessoas que bota água nas coisas. Usar o xampu até o final não é uma possibilidade – é preciso aproveitar aquele restinho que insiste em grudar no fundo da garrafa de plástico e resiste a teimosia espremedora. Tubos de hidratantes são cortados ao meio por uma tesoura implacável, os restos são minuciosamente mesclados com outras loções que dizem nutrir mas que na real faz parte de desculpa eufórica para brincar de laboratório. A lógica é uma mistura de economia com uma dose de saúde irracional: vai da pasta de dente (((sempre tive a impressão que quem falava creme dental também usava camisa polo com jacarezinho; peço desculpas aos envolvidos))), que é absolutamente esmagada de uma ponta a outra, aos sucos de fruta que são diluídos para tornar mais palatável os adoçantes secretos certamente presentes porque afinal de contas hoje em dia é tudo açúcar não é mesmo.

Esse método é uma tragédia.

Acontece que diluir as coisas para usar até o fim é uma eficiência manca, uma ideia de tolerância que na verdade não existe porque as coisas ficam uma merda. Como aquela vez em que a pessoa teve a infeliz ideia de pedir um expresso grande para acordar e passou três sólidas horas usando quantidades ridículas de água e açúcar para ajustar sem sucesso. Assim como aquele vinho vagabundo com rótulo engraçadinho que ganhou água gelada porque estava quente, porque assim já hidratava um pouco de uma vez só, porque que morte horrível algo de nome tão bonito como cabernet sauvignon acabar com o gargalo encaixado no ralo de uma pia qualquer. Aquelas relações que já estavam nas últimas e que foram estendidas por uma balela promissora de que aquele restinho de coisa podia ser aproveitado.

Por mais de dez anos foi impossível o consumo de chá, essa coisa rebaixada a mato fervido, água suja reverenciada por motivos obscuros e insossos. A diluição é, quem diria, uma ciência exata – acompanhada de colherinhas, cronômetros e outras delicadezas, traz de lambuja uma bula recheada de proporções mas que não devia ser nunca, deus me livre!, mais importante que o paladar pessoal. Água demais tira o gosto, o valor, o sentido; de menos, entope a bomba, vira mingau. Melhor mesmo é dizer que valeu, qualificar a polpa do suco e aguar o feijão proporcionalmente à qualidade da visita, que ninguém aqui é besta.

three-point turn

– Excuse me but I’ve got to ask: are you only being nice because you want something?
– Well, I guess we’ll overanalyze it together my neurotic, pessimistic significant other…

As the fingers caress the soft round spot of the cheeks where the lack of hairs make him undeniably human and fragile, an essay begins. Of feelings, or rather, hormones that beg to be organized in line as if pallid elephants arranging a caravan, a last minute trip to cross the continent. For the obsessive-compulsive disorder comes one step closer every time the books are organized by colour and the intolerance reaches new levels for any kind of mess that is not personally owned.

The rules are simple – they are assumptions in test, as you and I, waiting for stickers of empirical approval. One might perhaps label them as anxiety pacifiers, as Annie kissing Alvy Singer before the dinner in order to make the meal more edible, indeed. Actually, labelling is the first – introduce by the name itself, the one that still holds an unbearable pride that insists in staying and that prevents of being anything else but itself. Or is it better to shy the H. away and merely accept the title with a proper modest gaze? A couple of beings that peeked me through would risk an explanation pointing to the alignment of stars. But then again, the arbitrariness of nature is yet another trigger to pump a bulky, familiar anxiety. It’s simple, really: just don’t fuck me over. I mean, please fuck me daddy in the ways only you know, with the smirk as a side portion for anatomy commentary and sharp instincts that sniff the perimeter. Traces of cigarette and shampoo still reek from the pillows but not from the Blue Vice, also known as social media, that insists in offering tags neatly disposed in a schtick holder – identity collectors as if badges from Magic championships, name tags from feminist symposiums, tokens of friendships that last more than the person that disastrously realized their mistake after trying the temperature with their pinky toe.

Sharing the emotional baggage is only advised as long as each one is willing and able to carry their own load, and eventually volunteer as a sidekick for dusting the memories. As long as you don’t say the words, everything will be fine. It will, right, my dear? You know, the one that starts with L, not liver, not lungs; the one that promises laurels and whispers stability. And yes, I think it remains true regardless of the amount of intimacies shared, assembling on top of each other as the days go by, the impossible shape eventually coming across with the law of gravity and falling over the still fragile stem, unaware of its own wilting.

Dexterity is this thing I have always lacked, even more noticeable when changing gears that precede a slower rhythm or a slight curve. Nine years ago, precisely, the sturdy driving instructor explained for what could be the tenth time, but now reaching a new decibel scale, that angles require, at least, the stop of acceleration. Preferably being followed by some previous turn of the wheel, some mild breaking, some checking on the side mirrors. Did he not understand the seriousness of sweat as a sabotaging lubricant of grip? Not like we need it, far from that – for liquids may, from time to time, configure stains of love. No, my dear cynical, occasional contortionist, beauty mark appreciator. One needs to foresee the turns of the road, resting but ready, remaining with the right humidity of pores, balanced with the aid of light moisturizer for sensitive skin. One should be able to use their guts instead of dictionaries as a loyal compass, or breathe worries away and just wait for what comes as we do with mugs filled with steaming earl grey that will soon and certain be ready for appreciation.

Two-way streets are one of the most reputable analogies for relationships, even the ones that purposefully, smartly avoid the infamous L word. However straight and uneventful the cement may be, it is always accompanied by signs and drawings, arrows and symbols, an imperceptible but effective presence, a holy thing itself completing the magnanimous Trinity. Our personal third, our even to make it right, this extra little mysterious something that has no name and is but two days old, what shall we call it? Joy, pretty Joy, sweet present Joy that brings smiles, as we sing awhile.