Monday, August 31, 2009

beginning of the end

I can remember being a freshman at Jewell, experiencing college for the first time. I felt old and mature, until I met the seniors. They had this aura of confidence about them that made you think that if you got even the slightest bit near them that would spread to you. They had shown the ability to navigate the complicated maze of college academia, they were sophisticated and cool even if they were wearing raggedy old jeans and a t-shirt, and they knew exactly what they were doing with their lives.

Boy was I wrong.

They had no idea what they were doing, they may have thought they were cool and they had just enough practice to fool others into thinking they could handle the college world. This morning as I embarked on my last ever first day of fall semester classes of my undergrad I was hit with the feeling of being out of place. I thought at first it was because I could see the stark contrast between my confident walk and the anxious scurrying of the new freshman. Or that maybe I really haven’t assimilated as fully back into the United States culture as I thought and still breaking all sorts of social faux pas. Or maybe, no scratch that, I did put on deodorant this morning.

It took a little while but I finally settled on the fact that it was because I was once again in the group of the top dogs on campus. We were the oldest, most experienced, and arguably wisest attending classes this morning on campus. Odd. It’s a feeling I cannot describe. Maybe it was the added responsibility, or the slap in the face that the freshman have their future for the next four years figured out and I don’t even know what is for dinner tonight. Either way it was a little unsettling and weird.

The concept of age is a funny thing.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hello adult world

Two am rolled around and I was still lost in conversation. In a lull I see that my phone has a new text. Hating that I was taking my attention away from the person I was sitting with, i quickly check my phone, my curiosity getting the better of me. I scroll through a list of people in my head trying to figure out who would need me at two in the morning. No one needed me, just got a simple reminder that we are adults now. The text said...

Sparkles shined brightly tonight.

It was in reference to a conversation from two years ago. A nickname that I gave a good friend after he shared his plans for the future. Tonight he set those plans in motion. Welcome to the adult world, where big girl and big boy decisions have to be made everyday.

As for me, I'm going to keep running down alleyways barefoot, wearing my workboots with shorts even if it isn't raining or I don't have to work, and pretending to be an adult only when I want to...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Potter and Popsicles

My fingers are stained red from a too-short spoon used to stir a vat of kool-aid saturated with sugar, the southern way of course. My clothing is covered in orange fingerprints, proof of hugs from kids covered in cheeseball remnants. My belly is full from an icee pop eating contest that I, of course, lost in a blaze of glory. My shoulders are sore from hundreds of hugs and kids climbing on me. And my car, like my heart, is full of little children who for the first time all night are sitting peacefully.

The back seat has six pairs of little legs sticking straight out from the bench, some barely making it to the end. Each child is covered in a mixture of red koolaid, dirt and sand, chalk, cheeseballs, freeze cups and ketchup and mustard. It was hot dog day tonight. They are each working on a new icee pop, to prove their superior eating skills. I gave up three popsicles ago.
The car turns on and as I pull out of the gravel parking lot towards Southern to deliver my precious cargo, the radio plays the leftover bits of a country song. The kids groan and change the channel to the newest rap station, but not before a little voice in the back pipes up and says... "What does that mean?"

The song had a line of Spanish in it, the artist sang, "Adios and vaya con dios" The rest of the conversation went like this...

"It’s Spanish CJ, it means, goodbye and go with god"
"Oh. What is it again?"
"Adios y vaya con dios"
"Kelsey you’re really smart"
"Thanks CJ"
"You’re like Harry Potter..."

At this point the other kids chime in calling me Kelsey Potter, which starts off a round of Kelsey and Harry sitting in a tree, and other slams, insulting only to those under 10 years old. This continues until I pull onto the shoulder and let the kids off. They chase after each other, screaming and fighting to be the first one in the house.

As I drive back to the house I can only smile when I see the little gifts they have left for me. Six empty icee pop wrappers litter my car. Harry Potter would have used a spell to clean up the mess, I felt honored to clean them up by hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Easter eggs and toilets

I have a full cup of coffee, a lazy Louisiana sunrise and a lap full of cats fighting for my attention. It's a beautiful day. My heart is full after talking late into the night about everything with The Momma. My gypsy soul is quiet after spending a glorious 9 hours in the car enjoying the slightly impromptu drive south, and I simply have time to reflect.

We talked about Portugal of course, we talked about my recent change of decisions regarding my future, we talked about people, changes, Cedar Grove, the kids, the early mornings we now both enjoy, even toilets. It was much needed soothing medicine for my soul.

While we were talking in the comfortable house that I see as my home away from home I was hit with a mental image. These trips, while some might see them as me just running, mean more to me than that. I’ve struggled to explain what they actually mean, because I wasn’t exactly sure. I hit on it a little in the last post, but didn’t actually understand myself, what I was talking about.
This image that hit me, was of me as a small child running around in an Easter dress trying to find Easter eggs that had been hidden by me, but forgotten from years of neglect. When I found one, like all small children, my eyes lit up and my voice got higher. I danced around pleased with myself until someone called me over to help open the egg. In those milliseconds as I was waiting for the egg to be opened and discover what was hidden in my new treasure, I saw excitement and longing. Desire and hope. Then the egg was open and those feelings spilled over. Inside was what I was longing for, a piece of my heart. These travels are to reclaim my heart. Not to take it away in all senses, but to revisit it. To tell that piece of my heart and those attached to it that I love them.

As I was thinking last night, I decided it’s a very Portuguese thing to do. In Portuguese to tell someone that you love them, you say te quero. Translated literally it means I want you. If you tell someone that you love them you are saying you want them. If you don’t spend time on that relationship you are essentially saying you don’t want them and hence do not love them. So my travels, while I joke and credit them to my gypsy spirit are really deeper than that. They are to find my loves, my wants, and my heart.

With all this in mind, I was hit last night with where I have to go next. This one is a little closer to home, an exact 59 miles from the Jewell parking lot to theirs. It’s a road, much like the one to Louisiana that I have traveled many many times, but this one is a little more frightening. This Easter egg, requires a little more. I already have taken the egg back from this person, but it requires a little fixing up and a good cleaning before it belongs in my basket.
Until then my basket has a small multicolored easter egg sitting firmly in the bottom. It’s full of coffee, children’s happy screaming, peace from a porch, southern cooking, and that slow southern drawl.

And all the words that I am left with are, te quero Shreveport.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No faz mal

I stood on his back porch in almost nothing due to the restrictive heat of the house. The wind came from beyond the overgrown saplings and brought with it a release from the sticky humidity, washing me with memories from the summer. The wind pulled at me, awakening my heart, and tugging on my desire to leave.

It's hard to explain. I can call it my gypsy soul, this need to get away, but there's more than that. Life is hard. Life is complicated. Life here is different. I'm going to reclaim pieces of my heart so the healing process can begin. Or at least revisit who I was and where I have been. Some might call it running away from the issues at hand, but I'm leaving a little deposit of my heart here to reclaim later.

The best way to describe it is as a marathoner's desire to have a gravel road and a pair of running shoes, a breakthrough discovery to a scientist, the perfect word to a writer, a combination of notes that becomes a melody to a composer. This is what my soul desires. It wants to be carefree and wild, beautiful and elegant, lost in the wonder of new discoveries.

Portugal brought new, different experiences everyday. Here in the states I'm back to being normal. English is spoken the same without the sing-songy tone and heavy tongues, I know all the habits and traditions of the people, I've tasted all the food. There's no joy of discovering new things, no excitement in finally finding your way home, no satisfaction in the success of holding a conversation with someone.

All my life I've known that I want to work somewhere that challenges me with something different everyday. The United States isn't challenging. It's like a cow in a pasture perfectly content eating the same patch of grass each day. I am a wild filly with a soul that can't be tamed, one that can't be broken, content to run for the rest of my life, taking each day as it comes...

So i'm running. Only for a few days, but running none the less.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reckless abandon

His dark voice floated on the evening air, mixing with the sounds of the evening. It was strong enough to mask the mosquitoes and nearby traffic, even the cicadas. He had stopped just to say hello and catch-up on the last six hours, to make sure I hadn’t run yet. My gypsy soul had been awakened in the last two months and it was hard for me to stay in one place for too long. If I was going to make it through the next year at this school, I had to get away. My mind raced with images of European capitols and small country towns. I would have to settle with Nashville, or Columbus, or Shreveport. Though these are nowhere near my dreams of Lisbon, Madrid, or Paris, they would have to be good enough for now.

I planted the seed of reckless abandon, but his responsibilities were keeping him tied down. I get to be the crazy wild one while he had to forgo his freedom for two a days and forced team bonding. He was angry at those who were keeping him tied down. Like a wild stallion chomping at a bit he couldn’t be released from, he ranted and raved, threw some obscene gestures then settled back into the chair beside me to listen to the chorus of bugs serenading the night.

I was already free, at least for the time being, to travel into the setting sun. I could cave into the addictions of my new gypsy soul. Live my life without anyone steering. He saw that and inside resented it. I made a mental note to not bring it up again, until I was ready to go.

He stood up abruptly and turned sharply to take his leave. As hastily as he made his decision to leave he turned around and asked when I was leaving. “whenever I want” I responded. He tossed his head in response and I kicked myself for bringing up his responsibilities.

His blonde hair glistened in the setting sun as he jumped over the banister into the knee-high grass beside the dilapidated front porch. He glanced back and flashed a forced toothy grin before strutting off around the house where his red truck waited to carry him away, back to his responsibilities.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


So I found this on an airplane napkin and scratch piece of paper from my travels... it's a little disjointed, but still good. Thought I would digress a little back into the good ol' days....

I'm much too pulled together for six o'clock in the morning, but thanks to a little three year old, i've been up for an hour and I'm ready for my big Paris debut. I have a tiny purple hairtie from an early rising princess as a sign of her unfailing love. I smell remotely of vomit from a six month old's breakfast and I've had enough kisses and big squeezes from little hands to last me the flight to Paris.
The wait in the airport is littered with Portuguese, French, and English and filled with travel weary passengers. I find myself shying away from the English. I keep my mouth closed and get mistaken for Portuguese by the French and as French by the Portuguese. It makes me feel a little mysterious, like an enigma. I lets me think about disappearing in Europe. How I could run from everything i know and be completely content living the nomad lifestyle. But then I think about the people waiting for me in Paris, which makes me stand up and get in the right line for my flight.
These words give me comfort. They've been swirling around in my head waiting to get out. I've given into their demands and picked up a pen and paper. I write with the intent of others reading this, otherwise they words become those of a love sick 8th grader pouring her heart our to her diary. But maybe that's all these are. I long for the comfort of my computer keys, dirty from travel and worn from use, but instead the plastic pen and ever shrinking napkin will have to do.
I have an idea that's been growing inside of me for the past few weeks. It started as a little seed, just popped into my mind a few weeks ago and has turning into a carnivorous addiction, demanding my time and commandeering my thoughts. It's an idea for the future that is missing details but a plan none the less. I want to write. The need to express myself in the written word is like an addiction. I see someone and lines of description jump into my head, waiting for someone else to hear them. don't think this is a passing fad or a new trend in my life. I think this is what i want to do. So much so that medical school is a mere memory Science is just a doorway to a discovery of new words and stories. I've thought this new love has grown because of the inability to completely express myself to non-native english speakers. Maybe that's all it is, but the joy of writing is hard to ignore. Unlike science its results are automatic, they come immediately. And I thin i like that. The details are not to be worried about, i'm sure someone will take a biochemistry degreed writer. Until then I have time to dream and plenty of new adventures providing fodder for my next cave-in to this addiction...

And now we are back into the real world. The words are still true, and the addiction is still hungry...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

two-toned boots

The three of us stepped out into the moonlight that barely lit the street in front of us. The distant lightning was not a worry, but a spectacle that took our breath away every now and again as it lit up the sky behind golden clouds full of rain drops. But that was all too far away to worry about too much.

Ever conscious of fashion we were each clad in our own shoes of choice. New flamboyantly blue Nikes, Chacos, and a pair of rescued two-toned rubber work boots. The Nikes squeaked politely as we walked down the pavement, still unsure of their new owner. The Chacos remained silent, most likely mulling over ways to save the world from various oppressors, and my oversized work boots sloshed loudly on my feet.

These boots were rescued from my new basement. They were hidden between a discarded bathroom sink and the remnants of a garage sale from what looks like the 80's. They were the home to a rather large spider and a few dead bugs, but after a quick clean they revealed their true beauty. These boots have stories to tell. The right side of right boot is faded to a comfortable grey while the other side is jet black. The left boot is just the opposite. As we walk they make a sound similar to pulling one's foot out of mud, they rub slightly on my shins, making them itch like i have chigger bites once i take them off. I've worn them religiously these past few days while working around the new house, not just because they are functional, but because they make me feel saucy. I wear them with jeans, with shorts, sundresses, and tonight with a blue cotton skirt that flows easily around my knees. These saucy two-tone boots make me laugh.

I was asked today why I was laughing. I was laughing at myself for being brave enough to wear the boots. Laughing at people's over the top reactions. Laughing because I was happy. I'm perfectly content with my life the way it is right now. I'm okay not knowing what I want to do. I'm doing things that make me happy, exploring possibilities and being brave and independent. I'm making up the rules as I go for just about everything, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm going to keep sloshing around in those boots because as we walked it started to rain and I had definitely made the best shoe decision for our late night walk. I think that is how my life will turn out. It will surprise me when I realize I made the right decision.

But, who doesn't like surprises...?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

crumpled is better

I ran into an old friend recently. It is one of my fears while in Wichita, that I'll run into someone I knew from high school and have an awkward forced conversation that ends in a promise to stay in contact. It happened. It was awkward. We promised to stay in contact, but I had an interesting unique revelation while all this was occurring....

I was walking by her house when she came crashing out of her front door. She had her black hair cut short and pointy and she was chasing after her three year old. Her ability to pull off a vintage dress and combat boots impressed me, but I kept walking in case she didn't recognize me. She did. She called my name while keeping a wary eye on her daughter and the red juice she was drinking from an lidless cup. I walked slowly up the front porch doing the usual chitchat. Talking about where I've been, what I'm studying what I'm doing next, all offered in response to her questions -none of this information given very willingly. Then as the conversation lulls the three year old spills her drink all over the porch. In an adrenaline laced moment, the child is removed from the puddle and a roll of paper towels appears from nowhere. She grabbed ahold of the first paper towel and held on to it between her thumb and forefinger while wrapping the roll round and round her hand like a mummy. Like it was toliet paper.
It was at this moment I realized she repulsed me...

and that I crumple my toilet paper.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Homeward Bound

So this is it.
I'm on my way in less than 9 hours.
No more Spanish
No more Portuguese

No more plug-in adapters.

Watch out United States, I'm coming home...

If anyone feels the need. My american phone will turn on at approximately 5:45pm central time. Just saying...

Friday, August 7, 2009


You had a hold on me right from the start, A grip so tight I couldn't tear it apart, My nerves all jumpin', actin' like a fool
Well, your kisses they burn, but my heart stays cool...

All the Portuguese have left for their August ferias, the metro is empty, the streets are barren, the beaches are full of pale tourists speaking all too familiar languages. It's not the Lisbon that I love. I long for the familiar sing-song portuguese of my friends, with their cut off words and added -inhos.
I have turned into the expert. I am the one who can point the right direction to train stations, beaches and restaurants. Not just with my family, but with the Italians, the English, the Germans and of course the Americans. But I don't like it. It's too different. Still the city I love, but without the people it's merely buildings and structures.

In other news...

Paris made me feel fat and they made me doubt my legs. No one does that, I would be okay not going back.

We nearly lost my mother to a small isolated country-town in Spain after she got on the wrong train. But we can't talk about it

I met a fat smoking spiderman in Madrid. I liked him a lot, but I still told him he had let himself go.

I snuck into my apartment to retrieve my things I left without seeing Hugo. Turns out he's been in a depressed stupor and doesn't come home now that I'm gone.

My song lyrics that start my posts tend to be spreading in popularity

We can't get a train out of Lisbon to Malaga. I'm okay with that

My version of a long walk is six metro stops. My parents' is three. We've spent a lot of time on the metro.

My Portuguese is getting pretty darn good. At least my vocabulary for food and drink.

I'm consumed with thoughts of trying to get back to Portugal, possibly for good.

That's all. I have decided that these posts should get shorter, I really enjoy writing but I don't think anyone likes reading the really longs ones, I mean I don't.

Farewell my friends, probably until the United States. It will be 3:30am in the morning in my mind when i get in. I'm not okay with that... or the whole time change thing