Thank you for your time,
Today is the day my new life begins. The day that my eyes open wider, my ears listen to more, my mouth speaks the unknown and my breath continues, constant and steady.
I think of all of the building moments that led to here. Presently untraceable, but each obviously momentous. The photo album of people that have shaped me, that I have been inspired to move like. The words and the stories that I have collected. The jumbled mess of what I will take with me. The kind light in my brothers eyes, my blooming sister, the strength of my mother. I have complied it all and carefully tucked them away for me to open up and flip through.
My past is more than a chronology of years. A history that doesn’t define me, but it is what I face in the mirror. Now, moving swiftly and quickly to something so new puts me in an opportunity that tests my connection to my life before, and the ways in which I shape my current self. There is no starting from scratch, that would only be a mask. There is starting fresh. A renewed mindset, a new chapter. I am jumping into the next ocean of experiences with the prior knowledge of how to hold my breath and when to come up for air.
When I’m out in the ocean and I put my head under, all of the loud and revving reverberations stop. I bring with me not restrictions or rules, but the knowledge of how to swim. As I see the wave coming, I smile, and sweep my own feet out from under myself. Letting my head plunge into the blue, eyes wide open. Happy to be swallowed in the quiet and calm.
I say thank you to all who taught me to swim, even if you drowned me to do so. Thank you for the life vests when I needed them and thank you for the weights that challenged me. No matter what has happened before, I am here now and heading to Brazil! I still have trouble believing this incredible reality. But, I can recognize that I have been swimming towards it, even if the destination was covered in the whitewash of the waves. I’ve been preparing and wishing for something as good as this to pick me up with its current.
I am grateful for all that has come before. I have no regrets of my mistakes, as I add them to my photo album to flip through. I pray for more times of that complete calmness when my head is underwater. I wish for the challenges. With certainty there will be more. But I know how to swim and I surf now too.
Rua Paolo Simões Martins, like most streets in Brazil, has mulberry trees on it. On my way to work after lunch, I walk by two little boys on bikes as they come to a halt to stretch their arms and put handfuls of the black and purple berries in their mouths. I continue down my street past the rows of colourful houses with mosaic flowers and graffiti portraits and I see a woman finishing her cigarette and reaching up to a tree with movements mirroring the two little boys. She reaches so casually for the tiny berries, but like the boys, her movements are lead with an eire of eagerness.
All over Brazil, during the first weeks of spring, mulberry trees droop with berries attracting bees and birds, but most obviously people. People stop what they are doing, take a break for a moment and use their arms or mooch off friends to all experience the same sweetness and the same pinkish dying of their fingers. I’ve lived on the island of Florianopolis in Brazil for a little over two months now and will spend another five here. Launching into this unknown journey of moving to South America for seven months, I have stumbled on a colorful sweetness.
I say with pride that I am from the Island of Hawaii. My life was previously filled with hula dancing and traditional chanting, the perpetuation of native hawaiian culture through kapa art. But no one can tell that by looking at me here, just as I can’t tell their own hidden realities of their daily life. But I can tell that people like to eat mulberries here, just like me. It is the definition of
As I open the gate to the preschool garden I work at, I see all of the beautiful brazilian children running around, speaking portuguese and experiencing the world in an endless possibility of different perceptions. Some of these children might have parents similar to mine and many probably don’t, but when they all gather under the one mulberry tree and ask me to pick the dark berries for them, every single child has the desire and gets to enjoy the sweetness.
Coming to Brazil, speaking portuguese each day, being surrounded by new and foreign things all the time, I have learned how unforeign people are and the commonalities that we all share. The way that I play with the children at the preschool is the same way I play with my younger siblings at home. The smile that the bus driver greets me with is the same smile I would get at the small market at home from the cashier. Picking mulberries is a perfect display of this common humanity. There is a moment of connectedness, of quiet and uncompromised display of human nature when mothers holding their babies and grown men on their way home from work stop and eat berries. The beauty of this universal connection is overwhelming to me, the way everyone loves mulberries.