Over at Agnes’ last night to celebrate her birthday. I saw lots of people I hadn’t yet seen, including Mandy’s boyfriend, who has a mutual man crush on my boyfriend, and Nieke’s boyfriend, Wilson, who is one of the cutest men I’ve ever spent time with. He calls me “minha filha,” which means “my daughter.” (That’s okay because he’s got 30 years on me; it’d be weird if he were my age.) We had a great time and I took lots of pictures of us all gathered together and one new teacher was there too and we were filling her in on the life and times of our old friend, Dareen, who sadly did not come back to Brazil this year, opting to stay with her fabulous friends in family in Bahrain. But who can blame her when she has a red Mercedes convertible and a personal masseuse? (Mom, are you listening? )
I did see the tallest transvestite on the planet again. I saw her last year at about this same time of year, walking up the hill as I was walking down. I remember her distinctly from last year because I am rather short and, I’m sorry, but they just don’t make women as tall as she is, thereby making her memorable. So last year, when I was walking down the hill at night alone, I saw a tall figure walking up towards me, also alone, and I panicked for just a split second until I saw the long hair and the mini-skirt and the heels that, if I wore them, would make me of above average height for a woman. No joke. We passed each other, smiled, and said hello in our normal voices, and then I knew for sure this woman was not a woman, and man, did she have fabulous hair.
So I saw her again last night and I was reminded of the time I went to UNICAMP to see the performance about the transvestite prostitute–the play about how she was raped. It was a performance nothing short of amazing, and while I know I use that word all the time, I really mean it. Last night, my friends and I got dropped off in a car about a half-block from where she was standing, decked out in another mini-skirt and holding her little purse. She saw us approaching and fixed her hair, like women do who know they’re being watched. It was about 12:30, probably still on the early side of the night, and she was clearly waiting for a car to stop for her. But our car was stopping to let us out, and when she saw us get out, I mean, before she saw us get out, I wondered if she felt nervous–like maybe this was going to be like a moment from that scene in the performance when the woman gets approached by two men and raped. I wonder if that’s what went through her mind last night, and I wonder if she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw, like clowns in a circus, three short girls tumble out of a car instead of three burly men who would be potential aggressors. Cheyenne and I walked up the hill to our apartment, while Mandy had to walk one street over, past the tall woman; and part of me wanted to be the one to walk by her, just so I could be nice to her. I was so profoundly affected by that performance last year. It gave me such insight into the lives of women who need to resort to prostitution for survival and I can’t imagine their lives being ones I would much envy. Maybe a genuine smile once in a while could make a person feel better about his or her situation.
So now it’s Sunday morning and I’m all up in my last.fm mood, classical music and all. I have already taken video that I will put up on YouTube and later upload to “The Soundtrack” page above. I want you to hear the sounds I’m used to around here. And since it’s Sunday, it’s the Official Construction Day in Brazil. I want you to know I’m not joking about waking up to obnoxious noises.