Monday, October 25, 2004

The Unconditional Love

The one good thing about being on automatic pilot is that you become an audience to your own movie. Like someone on the sidelines, you stand back and observe yourself carry out your day-to-day, and repeat the necessary pre-programmed answers to the people around you. There are phases in life when you feel like a zombie… the living dead: when your body and soul somehow no longer co-exist. You take the time to rethink your life, to seek for answers and wait for this phase to pass.
Dodging another invitation to go out on the weekend, I sat staring at my computer screen hoping that time would quickly catapult me into the weekend, when an e-mail caught my attention. Nothing pleases me more than sharing ideas with great minds. Great minds don’t necessarily mean over the average intelligence, although it is a trait developed by curiosity. A great mind to me is one that is carried by an independent spirit: an honest and courageous free thinker who isn’t afraid to live and express himself… in this case herself. In her latest blog, my good friend posted a poem by a woman that asks her lover permission to love him. She threw herself and her pride at his feet just so that she may have the privilege to adore him. On any other given day, I might have thought that my friend had lost all her marbles, considering that a thousand suns will burn out before she ever throws herself at a man’s feet. And being the proud woman that she is, it intrigued me that she would post such a poem.

I dared to open my eyes and peek at the other people around me. Being spaced out like I’d been lately, I hoped that the meditation class would either bring me back to earth or take me even farther away. Either way, I needed something… anything.., to reconnect my mind, body and soul. We were instructed to close our eyes, feel the music and dance. Only when we could no longer think about anything could it be considered meditation. On any other given day, if I’d opened my eyes, I’d probably sat down and laughed my head off at the faces and movements that everyone else was making. One woman swung her arms dangerously, looking like an overgrown butterfly; to my right there was one who seemed to be running on the spot and in front of me was a lady who swung around so fast that just looking at her began making me feel nauseous. I searched for my cousin who wasn’t too far to my left. She swayed her arms and shoulders gently and wore an expression of pure bliss. They say that we all have moments of sheer beauty, I watched her as she had hers.
Taking one last look around, I saw a lady with a baby on in her arms. The baby laughed and giggled as she spun her around and the mother held her protectively whilst becoming one with her infant. I sighed as I longed for a connection… any kind of connection to help me feel alive. Closing my eyes once again, I blocked out my thoughts and allowed the music to take over. I’m not sure exactly sure how it was that I danced… but I considering that I was out of breath, it must’ve been something to see and laugh about!

The sound of silence. After forty minutes of dancing, we all lied down to twenty minutes of silence. At first I thought of humming Simon & Garfunkel to myself but then memories took over. Happy thoughts, sad thoughts… I took the opportunity to think once again about the poem my good friend had posted on her blog. It sounded preposterous to me that anyone would ever ask anyone for permission to feel. Had her lover given her a negative answer, would she have stopped loving him? When the floods of emotion are opened, how do you stop them? Can you stop them? It seems to me that you either give time a chance to diminish them or you learn to live with them, either way, you can’t stop your heart from feeling.
My lovely cousin told me a story about a wise man that used to say that inside him lived two dogs. One dog was vicious and angry; the other was a loving and gentle. The student then asked which of the two would prevail and the master answered, “Whichever one I chose to feed.”
Not long ago I was asked if I believed in destiny… my answer was yes but I made it clear that of the distinction between destiny and Fate: Both of which I believe in.
Fate is that which we have no control over, that which has already been planned or not… however, which cannot be escaped.
Destiny is something which belongs to all of us and that is controlled by the thoughts and decisions we make. Whilst Fate may bring about circumstances that we cannot control, Destiny is what we make of that fate by the attitudes we chose to have.
If our minds and thoughts are controlled by Destiny which we are the masters, our hearts are controlled by Fate… that which we have no control over. And so to love someone, can never be a premeditated step nor one that can be ended by will, choice or demand. How can you ask permission to love someone if your own heart does not give you that choice?
Unconditional love is the kind that simply is, even when it is wrong to be.
Even the most intelligent of people I know, have fallen in love with the wrong kind of people. Maybe he’s married, or he’s a drug addict, or he’s gay… maybe it’s the distance that makes it impossible or perhaps it’s the knowledge that under no circumstances are you capable of making each other happy. Maturity and courage is what makes a woman walk away from the man she loves. It’s the knowledge that love isn’t enough to make you happy that drives a woman on putting up the white flag.

It takes courage to stand and fight, it takes even more courage to know when the battle is lost and to surrender.

Even when the decision to give up is made, we’re always tempted to turn back and give in to bittersweet temptation. Just because you make the right decision, doesn’t erase the way you feel. Instead, you begin to see the other person from a self-created prison… always tempted to reach out but kept in by the bars built around your heart. It’s a condition so sad and depressing that it can drive some to madness while it slowly kills the souls of others. You fight the urge to run; to get on a plane; to dial that number or even to cry, while you feign a smile and tell everyone around you that you couldn’t be better. Your heart breaks down, not willing to feel anything else but the pain, your minds shuts down from the confusion created of the internal right or wrong war, and your body is left to survive on it’s own whilst the world continues to spin, oblivious to your suffering. However, you survive and you grow stronger and admit that maturity saved your soul… time heals your wounds and even though you might not ever stop loving that someone… you heart learns once again to live and love bigger and better than before.
I wondered if my good friend shared these thoughts when she posted her blog, if perhaps she too wasn’t screaming out in frustration to deaf ears. I wondered if I myself am not suffering from the same condition, thus the lack of colour in the world around me… if this is the case, then there’s nothing to be said and so… we wait, for time to pass, for the page to be turned and for the morning to bring forth a new day, a new chapter, a new life… a new love.

Monday, October 18, 2004

My Shitty Weekend.

You just know the weekend is going to be shitty when you wake up late on a Friday morning realising that the reason the alarm clock on your phone didn’t ring was because it went off, due to the low battery that you forgot to recharge the night before. Don’t you just love those mornings when everything else goes wrong when you’re already late? Besides having to change your shirt because you dropped toothpaste on it, you also have to return to the house twice: once to fetch your cell phone and the other your wallet. It’s no surprise that the bus also decides to arrive late and that just as you get on, you realise that you got a run in your stockings and that the old man standing next to you probably took his bath last Christmas.
Out of pure frustration, you concentrate on making faces to the toddler sitting in front of you who manages to get you smiling with his giggles and laughter.

You just know your weekend is going to be shitty when your boss decides to arrive earlier than you do and greets you with the wonderful news that you’ll have to make some last minute changes to his flight tickets, which need to be confirmed by the end of the day. The phones decide to ring right off the hook and all the exceptionally demanding clients decide that this Friday is the perfect day to check up on their tariffs. Your little tiff with the fax machine was nothing compared to the twenty minutes it took you to fix the photocopy machine that should’ve retired five years ago. Everybody has their on-the-brink-of-the-edge clients that appear to you instead of their therapist and expect you to listen to why their life is falling apart. Yours walks in just as you have the photocopy machine’s toner in one hand, and a rusty screwdriver in the other. As you watch her lips move, you thank God that you didn’t take that psychologist’s course after all. Once you realised that you can’t shut her up, you decide to listen more carefully and try to help her… Sometimes a stranger’s words can have more effect than a friend’s. Thirty minutes later and a million thanks, you’re invited to a dinner (where you will conveniently meet her youngest son). Instead, you “regrettably” fib involvement but somehow that doesn’t sway her… fifteen minutes later she’s back with her son who looks as confused as you do. Luckily you both laugh it off.

Twenty minutes before closing time, you finally managed to speak to the colleague that you’ve been trying to call all day and her answer just happens to keep you at work for another two hours to finish sorting the file you’d been meaning to sort for over three weeks. As soon as everyone else leaves: you pump up the music, take off your shoes and sing until you finished what you’d thought you’d only get half-way though.

You know your weekend is going to be shitty when your handbag’s wing breaks and all your belongings end up on the recently rain-washed-wet floor. The empty growl from your stomach reminds you that you have no leftovers that you can heat up and your only option is to cook up a meal. Ignoring the old saying that you should never go shopping on an empty stomach, you leave the supermarket loaded with groceries and swear at yourself when you realise that you forgot to buy that bulb that needs replacing in the bathroom. Walking into an empty house, you wonder if you really shouldn’t consider buying a cat but shrug the idea when you realise that it would only make your grocery bags heavier and that you’d be responsible for a furry face disappointed that you arrive home at such hours! You do however feel proud of the spaghetti bolognaise that you made just the way your dad taught you and mentally tell yourself that it’s the perfect way to impress that date that you haven’t had in ages.

You know the rest of your weekend is going to be shitty when you’re woken up on a Saturday morning at 9:30am by a client asking you if he can come in for a meeting. Trying to feign a sleepy voice you explain that you don’t work on weekends and assure him that you will call him on Monday. You swear at yourself for not asking him for his phone number and then at him for not identifying it. Not able to get back to sleep you get up and decide to start on breakfast. You burn your toast and take fifteen minutes to open the jam jar that you still hadn’t tasted since making it with your grandmother. After another three quarters of an hour of trying to swat a fly that just won’t get out of your kitchen you decide to give up and start on the cleaning. You break a glass while doing dishes, the shower curtain falls on your head when cleaning the bathroom and the trash bag tears open two steps from the garbage bins. You also prick your finger when trying to sew back the wing on to your handbag that you bought only a week ago. You then resume your cleaning and sing to the end of your broomstick along with the Corrs CD that you haven’t heard since high school, and develop a new relationship talking with all your possessions whose dust you wipe off. You spend another thirty minutes trying to swat that fly that has now conveniently found your bedroom and lay in bed convinced that you got him due to the ceased buzzing noise. You thank God for the opportunity to listen to your music, light your candles and meditate just before you fall into a relaxed sleep.

You know your weekend was a shitty one when you wake up to the neighbours fighting outside your window on a Sunday morning. You take a peek out your window and realise that almost everyone from your block was watching the spectacle outside your window and that they saw you peeking. Waking up with energy, you decide that on your last day of rest you will take the opportunity to pack your summer’s clothes and take out the winter’s. Not only do you get nostalgic from unpacking and packing suitcases, your desire to cry increases when you realise that all your winter’s clothes need ironing and that the fly from the night before is still alive in your bedroom. Deciding to make a quick stop at the supermarket, you buy all the things you’d forgotten to buy on Friday and think that your luck is finally taking a turn for the better… until you get stuck at the cashier due to the washing powder that was mistakenly rung up twice. You try to smile at the impatient shoppers behind you and sigh when you realise that outside, it’s just begun to rain. Not only did the cab driver take the longer way home, he was also as deaf as a door and almost slammed your fingers shut when removing your groceries from a grimy car trunk. Two phone calls announce expected visitors, one from your friend and another from your mother. Hopelessly looking at the clothes that need to be ironed and then at the groceries, you decide to take one thing at a time. However with Dido playing in the background you somehow manage to get almost everything done. Not only do your guests offer to make the coffee and do your dishes, they also keep you smiling and laughing the whole time through.

Taking a hot shower with all the essential herbs and essences inside my body scrub, I took just a little longer under the water and took my time in applying all those sweet smelling lotions that make me feel like a woman. I got into my winter’s pyjamas, thick socks and my purple robe with teddies on them. Outside the rain falls in sheets making the most relaxing sound known to man. Without a doubt I will sleep like a baby tonight! Pulling the curtain aside, I sit on my couch and decide to watch the rain for a while in the darkness before going to sleep. My last sms for the evening was of a great friend in South Africa that taught me the power of “choosing another emotion”. This is the art of looking at things in a different perspective, preferably the positive one. All I can conclude is that my shitty weekend was the greatest one I’ve had in months… And that I won’t go to bed lonely as long as that fly continues to be my roommate.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Journey

“Where do you think that will lead you?”

Does it matter? Does crossing the finish line really matter in life’s long marathon? When is all said and done do any of us really cherish first places and gold medals for more than a moment? The destination only becomes significant once you’ve worked towards a goal. If you’ve constructed an objective isn’t it the construction itself that makes the result worthwhile?
If so… then what’s the rush?
If the objective of everything that is born is to die then isn’t it the in-between the holds the true pure pleasure of living? No matter how beautiful a rose is, it will get thrown away once it dies and the appreciation it once held dies with it. Isn’t it’s worth in it’s blossoming?

The root of an impulsive nature is not always recklessness. He who finds the courage to live… truly live… makes the most of his existence. To accomplish this, one must learn to have faith. To have faith is to believe in oneself and one’s existence, to overstep the limits and respect oneself and one’s surroundings.

Everyday I see people running, hurrying, rushing to places where they really don’t want to be. Looking at your watch every half-minute will not make traffic go any faster, nor will swearing or pleading with traffic light. We worry too much about the things we cannot control. We stress to the point of losing the freedom of relaxation. And so we gym, jog and yoga: we rely on books, television and the radio to distract us and forget how to find pleasure in the small things we do daily.

The human being craves evolution but has lost the notion of how it is that he was do evolve. When did time lose its value, and things determined how happy you are? Have we been forbidden to enjoy the effort we make to accomplish our goals? Or have our goals become so meaningless that the journey has lost its worth?

All I ever wanted was to travel, to meet new people and see new places. My impatience fed my impulsiveness but time, experience and maturity taught me to enjoy the ride. Worrying and stressing will not take you to your destination any faster. Whatever your mode of transportation, learn to make the most of the ride. Nobody gets on a roller coaster just to reach the end. Your soul can only be enriched if you take the time to look around you add feel the wind in your hair, the breeze on your face or the warmth of the sun on your skin. Many of the answers we search for in life are right under our noses when were too busy looking everywhere else.
Life is about living today, appreciating the small things in life and in short: making the most of the journey.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Weekend in Lisbon

For someone with a lot to say, there are times when I stare at a blank screen and find it difficult to express the thoughts that go through my mind. Not because I don’t know how I’m feeling, but because they somehow don’t make sense. So instead of writing a column, I leave you with what I would’ve written in my diary about my weekend and the thoughts that go through my brain. There are no conclusions to be taken like my usual column entries but I suppose what you could say is that there are times in life when there are no answers and that’s okay too.

Thursday night was spent packing and unpacking clothes into my suitcase. It seems that even though my cupboard is filled with clothes… there is simply nothing to wear! I decided then and there that this weekend I was going to dedicate myself to shopping for a new wardrobe… something I haven’t done since January! I eventually finished packing besides the stress. Lately, most nights have been this way… getting home late, doing my personal things all at the last moment. I can’t remember that last night that I’ve had to myself just to relax. The pressure I’d been under had been immense and my soul begged me for some time alone. Some people fear being alone… I worship it. Time alone is the healing balm that allows you to think and re-evaluate yourself and the pit stop from the rat race we all run daily. But this would not be the weekend for the break my body desperately craved. The company Outdoor would mean a compact weekend of socializing: meeting new faces and catching up with the old ones.
When I boarded the plane, I closed my eyes as I always do and let out a sigh of relief. Though most people don’t understand it, the aeroplane is what I consider to be home. My colleague wrinkled her nose when I tried to explain to her why I felt this way. It’s the only time I feel that I have both legs on either side of the ocean… I can’t miss South Africa because I’m not in Madeira and I can’t miss Madeira because I’m not in South Africa. Some people think that “saudade”… missing something, someone or someplace is a feeling that becomes easier or that goes away with time. “Saudade” the only Portuguese word that cannot be translated, is a feeling that you carry with you all the time. It’s like a knife that is stabbed in your heart and never removed. It may become numb with time but just a little nudge of the memory and it will hurt just as bad as the day it was put there. My twist of the knife was upon arriving in Lisbon. Immediately I felt embraced by the “dirty” city and it’s polluted air. The tall buildings, wide roads and zooming traffic suddenly teleported me back to Johannesburg. I blocked out the conversations in Portuguese from my colleagues in the back seat and gloried in the illusion that I was back in “Joeys”…
Two of my colleagues stared at me in complete astonishment, being island girls I can’t blame them for not understand my pure joy just from being in what they considered the ruthless capital of Portugal. The oldest of the three looked at me with a wiser understanding. Coming from Africa herself, she knew the bittersweet torment that being in a big city represented to me.
Although this was a weekend for fun and relaxation… the pressure and tension had already begun weighing at the airport. Getting out at the terminal, I looked around at the expecting faces awaiting their loved ones… as silly as it may seem, I always expect there to be someone waiting for me too… he may not know it… but the cab driver will soon find out that I was the one destined to be his passenger.
Lunch was rushed as we had three big busses waiting to take us to Viseu were the games would take place. The taxi deposited us right in from of our mother branch. The massive building which we call “Marconi” radiated everything that makes me proud to work for the company that I do. I stared at it with respectful acknowledgement before getting out the taxi. For the first of many times during the weekend I felt like abandoning all my plans for London and moving to Lisbon instead. I quickly shook the idea from my head and fought my way against the wind to the main building where a colleague of mine was waiting to introduce me to some more of the kind of people that I often speak over the phone with but have never seen.
She looked good, different but with a healthier aura than when I’d last seen her. I was surprised with the atmosphere that each department had. My first impression was of tinned sardines but not soon after it was replaced by a more comfortable feeling of belonging. Would I feel more at home at a place like this? London will surely be this way… I felt more relieved.
New names and faces, I felt a stab of guilt knowing that I’d probably forget most of them by the Christmas party but then reminded myself that I wouldn’t be attending this year. Being in the heart of the company didn’t make my decisions any easier and I was thankful that nobody tried talking to me on the bus. I sat on my own and stared at the road, digging out all the good reasons why I was leaving all of this behind.
Phone calls from the office and clients who didn’t know I wasn’t in Madeira kept my mind off the pressuring thoughts.
I tried concentrating on the road and told myself that the long trip is just what I needed to help me relax. I looked out my window and saw a long and wide road, trees, hills and houses. I wanted to appreciate the surrounding beauty but all it did was amount to my growing tension. The road we travelled on resembled the road you take to Durban or Cape Town and I felt more and more homesick. Nauseous and “homesick”, I thought I was just about ready to crack when we finally arrived at our destination. The hotel resembled our main branch and most of us in the bus cracked jokes at the coincidence.
There was time to change for dinner, we put our suitcases in our rooms and chose the nearest table to the food. My stomach was still in knots from all the travelling but I convinced myself that I’d feel better after eating something. I relaxed within the start of dinner and took the opportunity to get to know the three new faces at our table. The first was a lady from the department of quality. In her I saw a strong face covered in feminine kindness. If I had to guess, I’d say she was a perfectionist and a professional at what she did… but with a human and caring side to her too.
The second face reminded of me of George Clooney… the charming man with the boyish spirit. He had a humorous answer for everything that was said at the table, conveying his point across without offending anyone and said it all in a t-shirt that I would’ve bought for my younger brother.
The third face caught most of my attention. I guessed that he was near his late twenties and probably an introverted person by the short, polite answers that he gave.
By the end of the weekend, I learnt that my first analysis of each was as near to the bull’s eye as could be.
When pouring cats and dogs, outside activities can be very hard to arrange and so our experienced team of entertainers drove us off to a building where we would be occupied with an indoor challenge… making a movie.
I was so excited when I found out what we were doing! I hoped that I would be put as a photographer, screenwriter or sound editor… my wish came true when I was announced as the photographer for the magazine that would be publicising the movie titled “Size does count”. The foundation we were given was that the movie was to be about company workers that froze themselves for ten years because they were sick of the clients and now we were to defrost them. The scenery team created a giant microwave for the specific task and wardrobe and make-up prepared our actors for their debut. I particularly enjoyed watching the results of inexperienced efforts. The dance team especially surprised me after making a dance lead by the most difficult of my colleagues. He actually managed to put the dance together well and I wondered if he wasn’t in the wrong profession. The way he put the team working together was out of character for him and the only time I could swear that it was actually him is when he told the director of the movie to wait because he was busy.
The marketing department got a sponsor from the microwave company and we all laughed as we watched a store manager dressed as an assistant having difficulties with his wardrobe. At least we all realised that he was no transvestite because he held up his hands as if the false nails he had on were sharp claws to be held up as weapons.
I ran around watching the chaos and had fun chatting and taking photos, I was exceptionally happy when I was told that I could keep the CD with the photos I’d taken.
Once the fun was over, we had a choice of either going back to the hotel to sleep or venture into the biggest club that Portugal had “Fora d Horas”. I was quite happy to go sleep off my jetlag… but my new colleagues would not hear of it. Compelled by the adventure of a new town, I ignored my exhaustion and joined the two for a shot of a cinnamon flavoured drink with gold pieces in it. The liquid burnt my throat as it went down, but loving the flavour as I do, I was only sorry that I didn’t get its name!
The club which apparently was only pumping on Saturday nights, had most of it’s rooms empty and since the dance floor didn’t contain either dancers or my kind of music I followed the boys to a hidden karting track belonging to the club. I couldn’t believe that the indoor racetrack belonged to the club but I guessed it would be double the fun after a few drinks…
Not having driven a go-kart before, I was afraid of making a fool of myself in front of my two colleagues who drove professionally… but since I never back down from a challenge, I got into the go-kart and told myself that I’d go slowly as not to make any embarrassing spins. After the first two laps, I began getting the hang of it and once realising that I couldn’t “crash” I began pressing for speed feeling the pleasure of letting go…
I didn’t make any embarrassing spins and had an amazing adrenalin rush. The two guys tried to boost my ego by telling me that I did well as a beginner. I mentally noted, that this was an adventure that I definitely wanted to try again!
The karaoke room was full with almost all the company employees. Chatting to the quieter of the two new colleagues that I’d met at dinner, we both agreed that it’s interesting to see the “other” side of the professional people we work with. Mr. Shy was a box of surprises himself. With the right questions, he was no longer quiet and I discovered that along with three cats, he also owned and shared a passion for motorbikes. The contrast appealed to me and I was so indulged on discovering more that by the time I looked at my watch it was nearly four in the morning. The evening ended with George Clooney singing Frank Sinatra´s “My Way” and deep down I fought down my inner battles of the dilemma “Should I stay or should I go?”
Mr. Shy walked me to my room. He had caught my attention in every way possible. Incredibly sincere and down to earth I couldn’t help wishing that I’d met him in another time and place. Looking him in the eyes, I felt guilty for allowing myself to get close to someone I’d have to say goodbye to. Would things have been different if we both knew I didn’t have to leave?
I thanked God for an amazing day and told him of my thoughts, sleep came slow.
The rain didn’t give in for our games and I was sure I was going to catch pneumonia. I lacked some of my usual excitement for play but it was mostly due to my lack of sleep. Deciding that I was going to get wet from the rain in any case, I opted for a challenge I’d never tried before: canoeing.
After the initial challenge of coordination – my two teammates and I eventually figured out the rhythm necessary for getting the canoe from one point of the river to the other. Laughing at our mistakes, singing in the rain and motivated by the awaiting lunch, we managed to get to the end of the river without the organiser’s help.
Proud of our achievements, we arrived at the lunch site like wet ducks. I could feel the water sloshing in-between my toes and the threat of another flu as the fever began rising to my cheeks.
“Go get dry clothes and go take a shower right now!”
I smiled as the colleague from the quality department proved my initial theory about her. Staying a little longer under the warm water, I asked all my angels for strength that I’d need for the trip back home. I knew from the lack of appetite and tight stomach that I was going to be nauseous and probably very sick on the bus.
Getting on the bus, I ignored my urge to go sit next to my newfound friends and tried concentrating on getting some sleep. At lunch a colleague from Porto had already insinuated that Mr. Shy and I looked good together and my colleagues were already inventing a million and one stories, true to their Madeirense gossiping ways. Having failed miserably in the “guy” department, I recalled the misery that distance brings to the heart and decided to stay away from a lurking possibility. Being a loud defender of the slogan “never eat the meat where you earn your bread”… I began imagining the smirks and commentaries that would originate from my standing up and walking to the back of the bus to go talk to him. Just as quickly as the thought came into my mind it was pushed out by my remembering that I don’t care what people think, so I stood up and went to sit next to him. Anything to get time to fly by faster.
George Clooney complained when we talked of work and went further up the bus to avoid listening to our conversation and get some sleep that came quite easy to him. I too grew tired of talk and bit the bullet by asking Mr. Shy if I could lay my head on his shoulder. The more I was getting to know him, the more attracted I became, so I decided that sleeping was the best way to shut the both of us up.
For someone who never sleeps on a bus, sleep came amazingly easy. I told myself that it had everything to do with how exhausted I felt and the little sleep I’d gotten the night before. However, I confess that a lot of it had to do with the sensation of the position I found myself in soon after…
Telling me that sleeping on his shoulder would cause a stiff neck; I was invited into the warmest embrace I’ve ever known.
Why resist? I couldn’t remember any of the reasons why that kind of intimacy was a bad idea… nor did I want to. I took his offer gladly and closed my eyes feeling more relaxed than I’ve felt in months. I sighed as I listened to the beating of his heart and felt the warmth of his embrace. Falling asleep, I dreamt of fluffy clouds and awoke wondering how it was that I felt like I was in heaven… Afraid of the answer, I decided not to look up. I’d had enough of hurting someone by starting something I can’t finish. I cursed distance for making people suffer. I simply couldn’t risk that, so I didn’t look up, instead… I allowed myself to simply feel. Feel safe, warm and happy… the way he was touching my arm almost got me purring and wishing that I were one of his three cats. Disappointment settled in once arriving at our destination, the trip that I had feared would be difficult, had ended up being the best bus drives ever. Goodbye was awkward. How do you walk away from that kind of intimacy? I was tempted to ask him to forget that I was leaving, join me for a movie and let things develop from there. We took each other’s numbers and I promised to call as soon as I was settled at the hotel.
Disappointment mixed with feelings of relief was my reaction when I got his voicemail. I was glad that at least one of us had some good sense. Fighting an odd sensation of hurt, I was quiet at dinner and walked around like a zombie in the biggest shopping centre in Lisbon. Although I had promised myself that I’d shop, I had no spirit for it. Abandoning my other colleagues on their fashion hunt, I decided to pamper myself in FNAC listening to Phil Collins and Bryan Adams’s newest albums. Venturing through the new books and music only made me a happier soul before going back to the hotel to sleep. This time, I fell asleep the minute my head hit the pillow. But although I woke up at eleven in the morning, it felt as if I hadn’t slept at all. My body was sore from the canoeing I’d done the day before and it took a hot shower and a couple of good yoga positions to make me feeling like a human being again.
Once again we hit the shops and once again I abandoned my colleagues. Not used to my silence, they immediately began making assumptions. I was neither happy nor sad, just tired. I lead myself to the place that I was sure would raise my spirits. The entertainment area was filled with kids and only they managed to extract smiles and giggles from me. I almost forgot my melancholy when a little girl abandoned her play area to sit next to me. She lad long straight hair and big brown eyes, she couldn’t have been more than six or seven years old. She confirmed that she’d just turned six once I asked her. Angela was without a doubt an indigo child… you could tell from the conversation we had:
“Why are you sad?”
“What makes you think I’m sad?”
“You’re here by yourself and you look like you want to cry”
Maybe a good cry is exactly what I needed but I was going to tell her that!
“Well now I’m very happy because you’re here talking to me!”
She wasn’t to be taken for a fool.
“Do you know what I do what I’m sad? I tell my mommy or my daddy.”
I bit back the urge to tell her that I couldn’t do the same. Instead I told her that I couldn’t do that because I didn’t live with them anymore.
“What about your husband? My mommy and daddy talk to each other about adult stuff”
I smiled at her innocence and explained that I didn’t have a husband and that I lived alone. Not wanting her to continue her torture on me, I suggested that maybe I should get a dog to keep my company. Angela took the bait and allowed me to change the subject but told me that maybe a cat was better since I lived in an apartment… a big orange one that I could call Garfield. Noting that I was being watched by security, I realised that I was a potential kidnapper and decided to say my goodbye. Just before I left Angela twisted the knife by giving me her final six-year old advice:
“You know, you’re really good with kids. You really should find a husband and have some, I think you’d make a really cool mum.”
Determined to cure my depression, I decided to shop. Unlike all the women I know, I walked into one shop and found everything I needed… in 15 minutes. A pair of pants, two skirts, a pair of socks and a handbag later I had done all the shopping I needed, telling myself I’d leave the jacket for another time and pay check.
Even though the food was great in business class, I was left with no appetite and it was just before we landed that tears began falling down my face. Years ago I cried when leaving Madeira… now I cry to come back.
I only managed to disguise my tears until the baggage department when my two colleagues finally noticed the river on my face. How could I possibly explain the turmoil I was going through? Instead I half joked that it was at the thought of having to work the next morning. And indeed the idea of returning to routine was enough to make me cry.
In a few hours I’ll be once again dressed in uniform to work, ready to face the day’s challenges and to sort out the work left over from Friday. Tomorrow I’ll tell everyone about the great time I had, show them photos and tell them that it was the best Outdoor I’ve ever gone to. But until then, I’ll brush my teeth, say my prayers and give into the reality that for the sun to really shine, there must be days of darkness too.

Monday, October 04, 2004


When the world is too quiet, or when the world is too noisy is when you can hear the whispers. With the sound of your voice but in a language you can’t quite understand, they speak to you when you have nothing to say.

All day long people talk to me. They tell me about their lives, their dreams and their problems. My place would be to listen; to empathise; to comprehend and perhaps advise them or offer solutions when possible. But since the voices started, I can’t hear the sound of anybody else’s voice but my own. I can see their lips moving but I can’t seem to grasp anything that’s coming from their mouths. I manage to escape with a couple of programmed answers and limit myself to only respond when spoken to.

The sound of my voice is louder than any of the whispers; it is a stranger to me.
Now that I need most to listen it, it has nothing to say to me.
And then the whispers speak to me. They recall memories and fill my thoughts with ideas of nothing and everything important. They seem to make perfect sense but nothing they tell me can be put into words.
Is the stress I’m under finally driving me to insanity? Perhaps I’ve stopped while the world is still spinning, or I’m the one spinning too fast whilst the world remains in slow motion…
Confusing but comforting, the only thing the whispers guarantee me is that this too will pass… And at a time when I can no longer grasp at anything concrete, step one is learning once again how to breathe.

Am I listening? Maybe Not…
Are you listening? Perhaps I too have something important to tell you.
When my mind has wondered and my thoughts are in space, words lose their effect.
If I there’s reply and your words are beyond my reach,
Whisper in my ear.