Tuesday, July 7, 2009

elefante branco

I’m all at sea, Where no one can bother me, Forgot my roots, if only for a day, Just me and my thoughts, Sailing far away

The breeze is a constant here. It is cool and refreshing, almost cold this evening. My fifty pound suitcase did not include any sweatpants or sweatshirts, so I'm wrapped in a white comforter from IKEA that barely covers the area of my bed. When I sleep, my toes stick out from underneath it, but sleep evades me now, much like success and the portuguese language. Today no experiment went right. Everything failed. When i say everything, i mean everything. One right after another, boom boom boom, fail fail fail. The first involved a microscope, the second a pregnant rat that was definitely not pregnant, and the third a membrane that glowed in the dark. In the states, i'm used to failure. Science never tends to work out the way it is supposed to, but in the states you have support, you have others who can commiserate in your failure and help you move on. Here I get a pat on the shoulder and then get banished to my desk to figure out what went wrong. 

I spent the entire day in my head. Things floating through it. They never lingered for long, just enough to miss them after they were gone. People's faces, places, street names in Wichita, the smell of fresh cut grass, english words, portuguese curse words and spanish all jumbled together. I didn't listen to the portuguese going on around me, I pulled away and became an introvert. I didn't think about the failure of our glowing membrane or what i should have done differently. I didn't think about the 400 euros that just got pulled out of my bank account to pay for rent, I didn't think about what i would eat for dinner or how i was all alone. Just let my mind wonder from one thing to the next. 

Portugal is an interesting world. There are no words to describe it. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I really am in another country, I am in fact the one sticking out, the one who doesn't fit, the one who doesn't know. 

I made it out of my head long enough to get on the metro and head home. I've been riding the metro to different stations everyday and then trying to find my way back home. It let's me see the city and the people, as well as become more comfortable with being by myself. Today as I was walking up a hill I was hit with a wave of emotion so strong that i couldn't keep walking. All the people and the memories came back in a wave of frustration and exhaustion and anger. Wave after wave hit me, forcing me to stop mid-climb. I came to a stand still in front of the Elefante Branco restaurant letting the emotions take over. The tears started. It wasn't that I was lost or homesick or disappointed. It was that there was no one to give me a hug when i came home, no one who would understand what the inflection of my voice meant, no one who could understand my every word. I guess this is what growing up and being on your own means. 

I'm tired of being strong, and brave, and being okay with not being in my comfort zone. But tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow brings new experiments that cannot fail, new portuguese words to learn, new and different things to see. Tonight however, i'm going to stay wrapped in my comforter, wrapped tight enough to keep the emotions out. I'm going to watch a portuguese movie and just sit. No thoughts, no memories, no emotions. Just me. 

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Wish I could be there to hug you. Mostly because you need it...and partly because then I'd be there. :)
Much love from here.