It’s easy to pour my heart into my job and students, it’s easy to eat my feelings, to binge watch five seasons of tv, or walk for hours and let endorphins do some work to try and fill these spaces. And it almost works. 60% of the time, it works every time.
But I’m at that age (and these feelings come and go in waves and seasons for me) where I wonder if I spent my whole life feeling self-conscious about what we gently refer to as “child-bearing hips” for nothing. I look around and want and need exactly one someone special to share all the days with, and do the things that make little babies, and then freak out about the babies we have together for like, the rest of our lives.
My only regular social engagement is with the miserable clerks at the grocery store once or twice a week. I actually had one good experience this week there…I must’ve looked like a lost little bunny (or drowned rat, due to the surprising rain) for the clerk took pity and actually spoke to me out of the previously hidden kindness of her heart. She asked if I had waited long in line, where I was from, how I liked Brazil, what I did here. It was so shocking that I had an idiot grin on my face as I stammered through Portuguese/Spanish responses, but she commended my language studies and wished me good luck as I left.
Until you have experienced the hell on earth that is grocery shopping in Brazil, you probably can’t appreciate what a surprise decent customer service and anything resembling efficiency can be, or how it fills your soul, so much so that you go to your prayer group an hour later and monopolize 20 minutes of their time in retelling each moment of the encounter.
Sometimes, to fill the days, I dip into the other stores at the stripmall. Tonight I walked past the pet shop, and spent about twenty creepy minutes watching dogs get groomed through the window, spazzing out when one would look at me and show a little interest. I’m one of those people that will meet a dog one time and then miss it for the rest of her life.
After serious internal debate, I realized it would be incredibly irresponsible to buy a pet like a dog or a cat here, so then I went inside and spent another twenty minutes debating a beta fish. I remembered the fish of my past – one that I even took home from a college spring break in a cleaned out makeup travel case with one hole poked on the top, strapped into the front seat of my car.
Would I name him Frank the Tank 2, Mulder 2, or Puppy 2 after my previous fish? I decided I couldn’t possibly choose a color alone. And I didn’t have enough cash.
So then I looked into purchasing a plant to love. Maybe it would keep away bugs. I remembered how much joy my garden at home had brought me; it was something to talk to, to fuss over, to spend time with and worry about, and be proud of. A plant seemed like the answer. Another serious internal debate ensued. I looked at SUCCULENTS, for God’s sake. But I walked away alone again. Naturally.
I’m okay with the singleness most of the time. I get to nap when I want and eat when I want and go where I want. But that gets really boring after a while. And then sometimes it scares me how lonely I can get, how anxious I can get about my future and God’s timing for it all. One of my friends at prayer group asked if these thoughts were really my own or thoughts from the enemy, but I don’t need the devil to tell me I feel lonely. I am. But I think I have to try harder to learn contentment and patience in where I am now.
Luckily, when I was having a bit of a hard week emotionally, I also had a pretty funny week with kids. And an American mom from school brought me a tub of homemade cake frosting, which was so delicious it almost brings me to tears. She said that it should last a few days in the fridge, like I wasn’t going to devour the whole thing in 24 hours like a classic fat kid more lonely for food from home than the people that live there.
But definitely my highlight, and a very clear reminder from God that I am where I am supposed to be, came after I led devotions for the staff this morning. I am so impressed with the people on staff who speak English as a second language and lead our devotions, and so I wanted to sing one of my favorite praise songs in Portuguese.
I stressed out over it for days – I understand Portuguese pretty well, but was feeling really self-conscious about my accent as I sang. But afterwards one of the Brazilian teachers came up in tears, thanking me for singing in Portuguese. She said she is “muito brasilero,” (super patriotic) and worries that some of us who work at this school leave our families, friends, all we know, to come here and end up hating her country with all the corruption and violence and things that are so different. So it touched her to know that I value Portuguese and love being here in Brazil. She actually filmed it, and we watched, hugging each other and crying. It was a moment on this journey.
We’re all spinning around on this crazy planet trying to do the best we can and hoping it all works out. I’m glad I’m here in Brazil at the moment, under an eyelash moon (I used to call it a “fingernail moon” until a good friend poetized me it’s real name) while I do the best I can.