For my first real weekend in my Brazilian home in three weeks, I have spent the vast majority of it inside. This is not a complaint. It simply is the truth perhaps partly due to a depression from something good, something so good a dear friend of mine called it “delightful anticipation.”
Having discovered my next step after Brazil will be to move to New York City and knowing it is something I am trembling with excitement to do, to start already, I find myself passing my remaining time in the quietest and most thoughtful of ways: I have been reading with such voracity it is as if the turning of a page is an inhale, the closing of a book an exhale, and the cracking of a new binding as I open it for the first time a giant yawn to feed the very extremities of my alveoli, deep in my lungs, with vital air. I am beginning my third new book since Tuesday and even as I do, I look at the stack of unread others with a greediness that makes it nearly impossible to focus on the words before me on the page of the book I’ve just begun. Why is it I drown myself in books right now? Why not be outside, on this first of beautifully sunny and free days? Why am I inside and prostrate flipping pages and sipping coffee?
“Each passing day is a year,” I wrote my friend, to which he responded he didn’t think I was in such a bad place of looking forward to moving back home. I feel a little like Harry, in my favorite movie, “When Harry Met Sally.” At the end he says, “When you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” That’s the urgent predicament in which I find myself at the moment and any depression I feel is a direct result of the sad fact that I do not have power over the passage of time and must lie at its feet and wait out the sunrises and sunsets with the patience rivaling that of a ten year old girl in the backseat of her mother’s Toyota station wagon en route from Vermont to Disney World, with several detours to see Civil War monuments not even remotely close to I-95. Almost there, she thinks. If only Ulysses S. Grant hadn’t wanted to go all the way to Mississippi to capture Vicksburg, I’d be on Magic Mountain by now. Likewise, here on my orange couch, I think, If only school ended in March. But, ’tis not the case, and therefore I turn page after page in Bill Bryson and Junot Diaz and Lisa See. In the past week, I’ve gone from Chinese foot-binding to paraplegic poetic blinking in French to tales of middle America in the 1950s, and now finally to a Dominican boyhood involving nerdiness and curses. This week I truly am an armchair traveler.
The truth is, it’s so quiet in my house. And it is exactly like I want it to be. I float around in my little house dress and absentmindedly wash the dishes or fold a load of laundry. I like hearing the dryer spin and toss the occasional metal button to the wall of the machine so that it scrapes audible circles against the metal as the clothing tumbles around. Today I feel a breeze float in through the windows and I’ve opened them all so that ten floors up it is cool and sunny and fresh. This morning I pulled a chair and pillow out onto the porch, rested a cup of coffee on the balcony, sipped from it and flipped the pages of my book, imagining how it must feel to sit on a stoop in Queens or in Brooklyn with a cup of coffee and a book and do just this same thing.
Truth be told, I am in a constant day dream here. I day dream about what life will be like in New York and how my routine will be. I’ve never had so long to think about the next step because all of my next steps have happened so quickly: two months to move from Providence to New Haven. One month to move from New Haven to Brazil. And now? Nearly seven months before school begins in New York and in this time there is so much space to dream. Being outside here in Campinas, I think, is a rude awakening to my dreams of what’s to come, and so getting lost in my mind or getting lost between the pages allows me to keep dreaming. Truth be told, I am having a better time in my daydreams than I am in my reality. But I think that’s the nature of dreams and the nature of reality. I suppose right now, in my anticipation of what’s to come, I would rather give myself the space to dream about what’s next rather than tread the ground I have walked outside, ten floors down. I’m sure the balance will even out eventually and I’ll find myself more in the present than in the future. But on this day, in the quiet of my concrete walled apartment, I’m content creating for myself a different world from that which is outside right now.