This is quite familiar with people who live no ordinary lives. That is, people who start over and over again in the course of a lifetime. If you let life school you well, you will succeed. There’s no other way. But the process is different for each one of us. My wife and I took the decision to move to Brazil in 2012 and we pondered it for a whole year. It was no ordinary task. We had three minor kids and that time, the countries in the south emisphere of the planet were experiencing an economic development and started to become a new ground for future investments. New horizons were about to be traced and a brand new world was shaping and waiting for us. Besides, Perse’s family was there, we wouldn’t start from scratch.
Now, Persefone and I were quite different persons then; she was accustomed to fighting to survive, having born in the inland of Brazil and having experienced poverty at a basic level, but a kind of basic that us, Firstworlders, cannot dream about. She had started over many times, scared away a violent and bipolar husband and buried another (no, she didn’t kill him). Change, even radical, was no news for her. Now, me, this was another topic altogether. I was raised by a very strong woman with the big tendency of being in control, so all my life I was protected and when I fell, the landing was always soft. I hadn’t passed through actual fights for surviving or daily challenges of an actual job to earn my independence. I did a lot of jobs, really, but never stayed for a long time in any of them, so I didn’t earn a position. This was my chance to prove to myself I could do what other people do. Get a life. So when it came time to clean up our flat from all the rubbish of the past, I stumbled on this box. It was taped and had the word FRAGILE written on it. I knew what it was right away. “Fragile” meant “Dangerous”.
Note: the following excerpt was written in real time, at the moment when the actual fact was taking place or soon after; I’m sharing it the way it was written, preferring the form of the present tense of the live witnessing over that of the past tense, typical of the memory.
January 21, 2013
Eight days left to our departure to Brazil. A whiff. That was enough for the big Boeing 742 or 727 or whatever it was to take off towards the new life waiting for me. From what I can see, it really seems that in the end, a week away from the big day, I am the one being more ready and calm for the transition. I browsed all the faded papers and letters of the past, ten years of mail, love letters that never received an answer, promises to keep in touch with people I didn’t even remember existed. Ten years I lived through countless delusions of life and sweetly damned incarnations. It has been beautiful. It has been horrible. So dreadful it made me want to puke. I opened Pandora’s box, tore its duct tape seals and breathed its lethal and poisonous exhalations. I couldn’t fathom the measure I would have been overwhelmed. I had been infected by the virus of regret, the deadliest on the face of Earth for its inhabitants who were given that dirty gift called intelligence. The bittersweet stench of memories penetrated until the bottom of my stomach, forcing me into impotence for three days, making me a vegetable. I puked my own saliva insulting the bottom of the toilet bowl with the voice of anguish. I talked with the voice of desperation, being it gifted with excellent eloquence. I cursed the shit out of me.
When I was able to walk again, I was also ready to cut every affective bond with people I was linked to through the thin line of a memory. A faded one even. A memory barely alive in a few scribbled lines. Everything would be sealed back in that box and the actual memory would have been pushed down, into the bottom of the heart, in a watertight room, far from the consciousness of the present.
And the present just needed me and I needed it. The same way my wife needed both, that is me in the present. If I was present, with my mind watchful and devoid of the hallucinatory and indecent fogs of the past, then Brazil would be ready for me. But in the end, Brazil was always ready for me. But what about me? Was I ready for Brazil? What would I need to be ready for Brazil, but legalized documents? Those I had already worked out. What would I be to be ready for Brazil? In awkward situations such as these, the actor within me resurfaces and the words of master John Strasberg come back to my mind:
“When an actor doesn’t know what to do, he just lives.”
Should I live? What did that mean? To let things happen? But in order to make things happen, shouldn’t I give some directions? Perse keeps telling me that God knows best. But sometimes I would like to have some more information. That’s why in the two years I got to know the woman that would become my wife, Persefone, I kept watching attentively and sometimes in a scrupulous way the other brazilians that rotated around her-being her always the sun and the others mere planets, more often satellites. More on this later. I kept also an eye on all the italians that joined these brazilians and accompanied them through their lives. I drew myconclusions but it is beautiful to run through again the phases of observation.
I was so a different person then; my vision of the world was quite nihilistic and I used to rejoice in it, as this were a way to shine in the eyes of others or to be in some way different, some sort of tormented creative person. Instead I was a blind man but I didn’t know it yet. My writing style was heavily influenced by my moody state of existence, my prose tended to be poetic sometimes but a kind of poetry with dark nuances and a self-indulgent painful pace. I am planning to burn that box; there’s a lot of things in there, obsessions of a lost soul, plans for a great life that never materialized, maybe because it was planned the wrong way or maybe because it was not planned at all. I was too young and ignorant. That was my watershed moment, when I saw all the defeats I had received without being aware of them at that time. But then, when I was flipping through them in one take, I got hit by it all. It being the failure of a lifetime; thiry years spent in doubt and frustration. When I look back to those days, I feel relieved; I don’t know that person anymore. That is not me.
So what about you, my reader friend? What is your most delicate watershed moment? Did it coincide with a drastic change in your life?
This excerpt is taken from the memoir “The End of the Rainbow”. If you liked the excerpt, please leave your comment as a vote to see the full-length book published.
Thank you and have a great day!