I’ve officially purchased my ticket to Brazil. I have an actual date (a week after they wanted me there, but did you know that getting a work visa requires the blood of a virgin and dragon fire and all kinds of official documents I did not exactly have on my person when I started the process four months ago?), and things are getting real. I’ve started having those “goodbye until…” dinner dates and long hugs and dramatic eyebrow raises, wondering when I might ever see people or places again.
Sometimes I want to be a total creeper and pull a Lionel Richie music video on your face to memorize the contours and moles and piercings and makeup routines that make up the you of you. (Not really, but what if I did? Would you let me? High five, fellow creeper!)
I know that life is always short; God, I’ve had to learn just how short these last few years. Each time I see you or talk to you could be the last time. But actually moving to another country makes me want to be more present when I’m with people and more intentional with my words. I’ve taken to randomly texting friends demanding a selfie of their beautiful faces and sending friendly reminders to people that I love them and they are important to me (if you haven’t gotten one yet, or just want some encouragement, and would like my “just in case” words to you, feel free to give me a nudgey nudge. I really like telling people how much I like them.).
I’ve started packing my suitcases, which hasn’t been too hard since I didn’t really unpack from North Carolina when I got here three months ago (did I really live there? Did that really happen?). But I’ve also been doing a thorough exam of my belongings left in my parents’ garage and found some GEMS. Like all my Xfiles DVDs and photos from college, back when we used film and had to wait a whole week to even see what we looked like in pictures, physical pictures you held in your hands. All 24 of them from one roll. And I’ve knick knacks from teaching and that one love letter from a student who asked me to bring him back a shot glass from my trip to Disneyland. (He was 12. Aaaaaand BIG no, thank you, but NO.)
I’m starting to think about what’s important enough to take, what I will miss, what I can’t live without. I like to pack light (by “light” I usually mean I expect to forget like half the things I need and just deal with it), I like to live simply. But I’m a quirky gal. So I have weird concerns like, will I be able to find well-made shoes to support my collapsed arches (don’t laugh – I have old lady feet)? Do Brazilians like mason jars? Do they sell Sensodyne toothpaste in Rio? Because these babies are tender.
I know I will miss being cold. So I’ve been binging on the hot tub and fireplace here. I will miss seasons and the scarves and smells and holidays that come with them. And pumpkin related products from Trader Joes. Missing my family and friends doesn’t seem as daunting as missing my dog, who I cannot possibly explain my absence to. I’ve been trying to teach her how to Skype, but she’s reluctant. I don’t think I’ll miss driving, but I could be wrong.
I have serious concerns about how long I can live without Mexican food. But other than that . . . for the first time in a long time, I have so much to look forward to, I can barely be bothered to be sad about what I leave behind. Yes, I’m terrified. Yes, I wonder if this is a wise choice, considering my age, my career, my finances, the various degrees of mental and physical health of my family and friends, and even myself.
But the worst thing that could happen is that I come home again. There is nothing “more” worse that could happen to me just because I will be in Brazil. So all my normal fears are there (getting mugged, freak tsunami, allergic reaction to something cool), will always be there, as they always are no matter where I am. But I get to face them on the beach. I get to face them at the home of the World Cup, the 2016 Olympics, the biggest NYE celebration on the planet, the land of Carnaval, capoeira, the Amazon, an incredible blend of languages, races, and cultures.
I get to teach again, and wake up each day with a purpose and agenda and a chance to hang out with kids who need me. I get to travel for a living, learn a new language, and challenge myself in a deep and enduring way. So.
I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’m excited. I wish you were coming with me. Come visit, yeah?