The three days between All Hallow’s Eve (or Samhain or Halloween) and the Day of the Dead (or All Soul’s Day) is the time when pagans tend to commune with the dead. We generally talk about the veil “between the worlds” of the living and the dead being thin and, therefore, more permeable at this time. Climatically in North America and Europe we are transitioning from the end of the harvest time into the fallow periods of winter. While I lived in New England this rhythm was obvious and clear as the frosts came and my friends started hibernating (read: disappearing). In Southern California I’m experiencing a sort of “Fall Lite,” with more subtle differences in temperature and foliage. Having just returned from a month in the Brazilian spring, however, has turned my senses upside down. As I sort out the reverse culture shock I’ve been steeped in for the past ten days (including the changing of the seasons), I’m hoping my dead family and friends will offer some insight into my newest puzzler: Bilocation between Brazil and the Central Coast of California.
All throughout 2010 Brazil has been seducing me, shamelessly. She has followed me everywhere, singing me songs, lulling me into submission. My recent journey there was my surrender to Her, my deepest acknowledgement that, yes, I was hers and She could do with me as She pleased. I completely fell back into her lap, allowing Her to caress my worries away and fondle my desires for reconnection. I played, laughed and cried with friends and family who have known me for 26 years. More than anywhere else on the planet, my small town in the interior of São Paulo state holds memories of who I am and who I have been since that younger version of me arrived at 16, hungry for adventure and needing to expand my vision of life. Most importantly, these people continue hold me and love me in such a unique and special way that my heart can’t help but burst. Their special brand of caring and attention is as impossible to describe as a beautiful Brazilian song, and just as dynamic. And this is no one way street; my love for them is vivid, huge and bubbling.
Each day of my trip someone conspired for me to stay, to acknowledge my Brazilian soul -- my two best friends, my sisters and brothers, mother and father, even new friends jumped right in. We plotted to create work opportunities which would allow me to spend part of the year there and as we schemed I understood the real possibilities. My graduate program is structured for distance learning (and it would be easier than commuting from China as my colleague is doing). I started to truly imagine how my life could look/feel/be if I traveled to Brazil every 3 or 4 months for a month to 6 weeks at a time, keeping my connections in both places. In my head the internet became my bosom buddy, cell phones a lifeline – the possibilities blossomed. Brazil’s rising economy is palpable and I could feel the hum in my blood as I thought about bringing my work here, especially as the country has developed its value for human resources, human rights and women’s leadership. Somehow they’ve managed to craft an economy inclusive of their deep spirituality and respect for the environment, something new the world needs now.
Even sunny, friendly California did not measure up to the pure radiance of being accepted and loved by old friends. My graduate program has been incredible, something I’ve been wanting for many years now. It feeds my soul; otherwise I would have packed up already and headed south. It is, however, the only thing that holds me back from moving to Brazil fulltime (never mind the visa, it will work itself out certainly).
Physically leaving Brazil this time was so incredibly hard; I was not prepared. I hurt deeply even though my plans were well underway and emotionally I trusted myself to make them happen. I did not expect this level of grief. But there I was, sobbing in the airports. Having just reconnected with my long lost friends and holding them tightly for fear of losing them again. Somehow I need to cultivate the grace required to hold them lightly as I travel back and forth, trusting they will be safe and holding space for me until I return. And I need to hold my life and friends and family in the States with as much care and love as I learn to be present and mindful in both places.
So you see, I don’t need to be in both places at the same time… I need to be able to flow between my two worlds, finding the resources necessary for this lifestyle, and the trust that I am held. So I offer a prayer to my beloved dead, here and in Brazil, honoring their memory, opening my heart to the possibilities.
And lest you think this great Brazilian lover has left me in peace this week, think again, for She is hard at work wooing me. I bumped into a homeless man whose sparkling golden shirt shouted BRASIL at me. I then managed to duck into a coffee shop to recover, only to pick up a harmless book to distract me: Elizabeth Bishop’s translation of Minha Vida de Menina (Pulitzer Prize winner Bishop lived shamelessly in Brazil for 15 years), the diary of a country girl between the ages of 12 and 15. Back out into the brilliant sunlight, smack into a bookstore’s display of Committed, Liz Gilbert’s follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love where she contemplates marriage with her Brazilian man in the face of deportation.
Damn, this lover is good – consistent, sassy and trustworthy. A terrific guide between the worlds.