One of the major music venues here in Campinas is a converted disco club called Campinas Hall. It is on the outskirts of the city, near Shopping Dom Pedro and Parque Dom Pedro. (These are huge–huge–shopping areas. You know you’re around Shopping Dom Pedro when you look up and see gigantic, multicolored, cartoon-like birds up on pedestals. Don’t ask me why. I couldn’t possibly begin to provide an answer.)
Last night was a show of three different bands from the area. One of my new friends invited me and so last night at 10:30 I took a cab there to meet them. I went alone, without my teacher friends accompanying me, so it was kind of an experiment in getting to this place, alone, and meeting up with people there. I don’t have a cell phone here, so I was kind of just trusting that they would show up when they said they would.
Which they didn’t. But because they were only fifteen minutes behind me, they were, relatively speaking for Brazil, on time. Almost to the second. Being on time and punctual is the one American trait I can’t relinquish in my attempt to assimilate. I am just on time all the time. I hate being late, I hate waiting for people, and I hate it when people have to wait for me. So I’m on time here, which usually means I end up waiting. I was wandering around the Hall, which has a kind of log cabin structure. The lay-out is circular with an outside area surrounding it that is reminiscent of Swiss Family Robinson: little lagoons, wooden foot bridges made out of the same rounded wooden beams that the Hall is made from. It is lushly landscaped with tall palm trees and tropical flowers coloring the area. It is kind of a bizarre set-up for a concert hall, but it’s lovely to see. As I wandered the place looking for them, I saw the small group headed toward me. I recognized my friend, Daniel, and was introduced to his other friends.
At first it was awkward because of the language. But as soon as I went through my customary question-answer period with Daniel’s friends and they were impressed with my fluency (which is only so because I answer those questions all the time, almost everyday) they loosened up and spoke with me more freely, which helped me feel more comfortable, too. For the most part, I can understand much, much more than I can say. I don’t have the vocabulary at hand yet, so the words I do know, I know very well. And the words or conjugations I don’t know, I make a hash of. But the point is, I try.
No one I was with spoke English and so I was forced to listen, learn, and speak back in Portuguese. It was such an awesome experience for me and it was the first time I had gone anywhere by myself with friends of my own, who no one knows except myself.
I think what I am craving here more than anything is a sense of my own place and my owngroup of friends. I have been too dependent on the other teachers here. I want a break from them. Not from their friendships, but from being surrounded by work people and work talk all the time. Last night helped me–truly, truly helped me–feel like this place could someday feel like a home. I want to keep feeling better like I did last night, and so the way I think I can do that is if I continue to keep my work life and friends separate from my living. It is too easy to speak English whenever I want. I don’t want things to feel that easy anymore. I want to learn this language.