I should be leaving in something like 18 days. It’s not going to happen. Not that soon, anyway. I’m sure my visa won’t come through on time and I still haven’t received anything about the 7th grade Social Studies curriculum I’ll be teaching…Nor have I received the e-mail addresses of the other teachers like I requested a week or so ago, nor the video I wanted to see of the school where I’ll be teaching in Campinas. I haven’t gotten a lot of things.
I did get a bad case of food poisoning, however. I’m now on my fourth full day of searing pain in my abdomen, all from the little tuna appetizer at Roomba. The “Atun” is usually something I eat at least once a week when I work, often more than that. I’ve never had any problems with the food there. I am on the mend now, and able to spend time doing the things I need to do for moving South. But I can’t help but think, somewhere in between my trips to the can, what if I get sick in Brazil? Is this what it will feel like if I drink the water?
In all the imaginary trips I’ve taken, I never once thought about Brazil. In my mind’s eye, I’ve been to New Zealand, Prague, East Africa, Siberia, Japan, Bangkok, Haiti, Sydney. They’ve been beautiful trips, really wonderful places and I think I’ve been happy in all of them. I didn’t ever really think about South America. I think maybe that’s because one of my mom’s stories was of her big trip to South America with Lynne, her best friend. I guess I figured that if my mom had been somewhere there was no point in my going, since part of my blood had already been there. I guess I see traveling as kind of throwing all of my self out into the world to hit as many different places as possible.
When I graduated from high school, my parents said I could take any friend I wanted anywhere in the world for three weeks. At the time, my friends and I were all obsessed with Ireland. We spoke with brogues, we tried to make our handwriting mimic European handwriting, we hung up pictures of Ireland all over our rooms. So when my parents gave me the opportunity to go anywhere, you’d maybe think I’d want to go to Ireland. I thought I wanted to, also. But when I started exploring possibilities and found I could go to two countries in the same amount of time, I decided to forgo Ireland and go for Scotland and England, two places I’d never seen before, either.
Other people, when they heard the news about my choosing two over Ireland, criticized me. “Why would you give up Ireland?” they asked, as if I were Sophie and had just made my choice. But my response was simple: I wanted to see two places. Maybe I have a kind of traveling ADD–where I need constant stimulation and change of scenery.
Or maybe that’s what I needed ten years ago.
It’s been that long since I last had the choice to leave the country for a while, and while this time it won’t be with my family or friends, it’s my own choice again where I go. I’m choosing to take a long time and stay in one place, which is what I’ve done here in New Haven. New Haven, Connecticut was a two-year stint, so I figure I can do it again in Campinas, Brazil. I figure I can, although I can’t be quite sure. I’ve never done this before–just pick up and leave everything I know for the absolute complete unknown. Yeah, whatever, I did it when I moved to Boston, to Rhode Island, to Connecticut–as I worked my way down the Eastern seaboard. But never, never in this capacity. I’ll still be on the eastern seaboard, but in a place so totally unfamiliar in language, smell, sound, temperature…
As much as I’d like to say I’m freaking out over such a big change, I’m really not. My nerves are manifesting themselves in lots of ways, I’m sure…stomach aches, lethargy, forgetfulness, short temper, unexpected crying. But I haven’t had any huge breakdowns or freakout sessions. I mostly don’t know what to expect, other than not knowing what to expect, so why put all sorts of energy into that? Into fretting this gigantic unknown? Why bother? I’d prefer just to live in a blissful state of denial and not really pay attention to the fact that in a few short weeks, I’ll be leaving my mom and Frank, Dennis, his family, Francis, my friends (who are already scattered around the globe), and all the comforts I have here.
How do I prepare myself for a goodbye that big? How does anyone?