Brazil

Evolve with me

I don’t know what is going on, but I just feel full of love lately… I just can’t stop writing about the damn thing! It might have something to do with the fact that I’m going home all the way to Brazil next week and I just feel so nostalgic. I’m going for my mum and step dad’s 25th wedding anniversary and I can’t wait to give them a big hug!

My auntie and uncle have also recently celebrated their wedding anniversary (their 50th!) and all these celebrations have made me reflect about couples, life as a couple, choosing the right person, and deciding to stay with that person. I found myself asking the question: what is it that makes people want to stay together? I mean, sometimes it seems as though the whole universe is conspiring to show us why we shouldn’t be with someone. Sometimes, so many challenges are put in our way that we think that we are missing a trick by not just letting go. But then, despite it all, we insist, because we believe that somehow that is meant to be. And why is that? In a world of instant relationships, where giving up is all so easy, why some of us still persevere and try to overcome bad times to stay with someone?

I guess it all comes down to the roots of said love, the reasons that brought the couple together in the first place. It could be the way she talks, it could be the way he is always so thoughtful, her clumsy ways or his talents as a chef. Or it could be none of these or all of them together. The thing is, somehow, somewhere right there in the beginning, a ‘ping’ moment happened, that moment when you realise that ‘Yep, that’s the person for me and I shall stop looking around for anybody else’. Bingo!

This choice, when made, usually means that you sort of become more adaptable to the traits of that person. You know them well, their annoying bits and their best bits, and you learn how to endure the abrupt way they can respond to you when they are in a rush, her annoying habit of asking silly questions when watching movies, the complete disregard he has for the laundry basket, the way she needs to be so controlling. These – and many other characteristics and behaviours – become just part of that person, part of the partner you chose.

Nowadays, when relationships go wrong, people can too often just discard them. Far too many times, they blame the work that is involved to keep a happy relationship. Well, of course there’ll be work involved. Even though we have been made to ‘mate’, we are very much individual human beings, with all our quirky traits and odd behaviours. So to think that joining two people, even if they are attracted to each other, is as easy as joining two pieces of magnet, think again. Some adaptation is required, and not only just the once. On an ongoing basis. Oh yes…

growing together

So, if it’s so much work, why do we still do it? The way I think of it is because the pros outweigh the cons. A little adaptation, a little understanding, a bit of accommodating and patience are not that much, when you get great company, fantastic laughs, affection in abundance and someone that genuinely cares about you in return. There is something about that person that makes it ok for you to wake up a bit earlier than them to make them coffee. There is something special that makes you not mind having to put up with their messiness, their ‘leave me alone’ moments and their obsession with never ever , God forbid, using a fork to scrape a pan. The same way that they put up with your fear of motorways, your useless ways in the kitchen and the way you like to change the furniture around all the time. It’s a very balanced but unspoken trade.

There is a song that kind of describes what I’m talking about. You will know it. It’s that one that goes… “Nobody knows it, but you’ve got a secret smile, and you use it only for me…” I think this song says a lot about couples staying together. To me, it represents that underlying understanding that is always there somehow and pushes you through limits but always makes you stronger. You see something special in someone because what is special about them is somehow highlighted to you in a way that others can’t see. These understanding looks, smiles and gestures keep that connection, keeps them protected. If these are treasured and the two of you manage to keep them intact, then you will be just fine.

Couples that persevere are brave. I heard someone say the other day that they are kind of embarrassed to mention that they have been happily married for over 20 years. People just look at them incredulous, doubting that that could ever be true. Why not? It’s a great thing to find someone for whom you are willing to adapt yourself, so you can grow stronger together. If that person is happy to do the same for you, even better (or lucky, shall we say?). And when a couple is willing to evolve together for an amazing length of time, like my auntie and uncle, and my mum and stepdad, then only one thing can describe that: true love.

Categories: Brazil, Friendship, Happiness, Love matters, Personality traits, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brazil x England – (Ding Ding!)

It’s now been over two months since I arrived back in the UK from my holiday in Brazil. I’ve had enough time to analyse how the trip went, although when you go to see family and friends it’s bound to be good anyway. In fact, it seems like it happened ages ago and I miss he place and everyone already!

As you may/may not know, I live in the UK and all my family and childhood/teenage years friends live in Brazil, so every time I go I try to see as many people as I can to make sure that the bonds that are so important to me stay as they are: strong.

This time, there was a difference, though. I took the boyfriend with me. I was a little anxious as to what he would think of Brazil… but let the trip run its course without asking him a million times whether he was having a good time or not. I could actually see for myself that he was happy, but I didn’t want to keep on asking the question and annoying the hell out of him.

It turns out that he loves it, which is fantastic! It was funny to watch him around my family and friends. Lee is a naturally quiet person and he’ll only really let go when he has known the person for a little while (or if he is drunk, ha!). Even so, it seemed like he felt pretty comfortable being around everyone, which was a relief. At the end of the holiday, I left Brazil with my parents and friends telling me what a catch he is (and because he now knows what they think, I’ll have to look at his smug face forever!).

Anyway, this post is not about that, really, it’s about me thinking of Brazil and REALLY thinking about the reasons why I chose not to live there. I have written about this here before, mainly about not being able to explain why I chose to live in England over Brazil.

Now here’s the truth: these are two completely different countries in so many ways… age, politics, society, culture, economy, etc. Even so, I find that a few of my top reasons for not living in Brazil are quite shallow considering other issues that could well tip the balance in England’s or Brazil’s favour.

So here they are:

1. Hay fever

Who suffers from this sneezing-evil condition will know what I’m talking about. In Brazil, I am ALWAYS sneezing, my nose is always running and I find that this has a massive impact on my quality of life. In England, I only suffer from hay fever for a couple of months during spring, if that.

England 1 x Brazil 0

2. Security

In England, Lee and I go out at night and walk back home, no matter the distance or the time. I do not worry and I am not scared walking around in England. In Brazil, as everyone knows, the story is very different. Lately, it seems to have been getting  even worse.

England 1 x Brazil 0

3. Food

In England, a much smaller country than Brazil, there seems to be so much more food variety. And although the fruit and veg do taste a lot better in Brazil, England’s selections of cheese make up for it in one go.

England 1 x Brazil 0

4. Travel

In Brazil, the airports can be quite disorganised and the air fares are not always the most friendly on the pocket. In fact, it can be cheaper to travel abroad than it is travelling within the country! England, on the other hand, proves to be a fantastic connection to the world and the amazing places out there.

England 1 x Brazil 0

5. Salary

This was always a positive about England. Not anymore. 13 years ago, I remember working in a restaurant in London, paying for all my bills whilst renting a room in a house with other friends, going out and still being able to save to go travelling. Now, the same recession that seems to have impulsed growth in Brazil, hit England in a bad way. Having a job is a bonus and saving any money can be compared to performing a small miracle. Having said that, I recently read that the cost of living in Brazil has skyrocketed, leaving people with no choice but to swallow hard and carry on.

Brazil 1 x England 0

6. Organisation

For as long as I remember, getting any kind of document in Brazil is a very good reason for a headache. The queues are never-ending, the forms are not straight-forward and there are always obscure rules that no one knows about. In England, everything is so black and white it can even get embarrassing if you don’t understand how things work. They make it easy for everyone and usually things are done pretty quickly.

England 1 x Brazil 0

7. Politics

In Brazil, we all know how messy this scenario is. Year after year, the same corrupt politicians are still part of the government (how?) and most people still seem to sell their votes to the highest bidder. In England, the majority seems to take much more of an interest in politics. They recognise how it affects daily life and make sure they have their say.

England 1 x Brazil 0

8. The climate

Yes, ok, call me crazy, but I prefer to be in the cold than in the scalding hot weather of Brazil. It drives me absolutely mad to be sweating all day every day, to sleep unfomfortably and not be able to function properly if not in the mercy of an air con. I like the cold weather England has to offer which, funnily enough, is what the English try to run away from at any given opportunity. Yes, I like sunny days, but by the beach. For city living and a working life, I’m happy where I am, thank you.

England 1 x Brazil 0

So, if you have done the maths, England wins 7×1. But it’s not just about this list. There is something else. Still, unfortunately, it’s that something I can’t explain. There must be something in the air. Or I might have past connections with this place – yes, I do believe this is possible! I don’t know what it is. I love Brazil to bits and it will always be my favourite country where a lot of people I love are but, to me,  nowhere else says HOME as England does. For now. (ha!)

Categories: Brazil, Home, Living away from home, London, My home, St Annes living, Winter | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Right turn, left turn

Today I got thinking about the choices we make in life. I was thinking about how my life turned out to be in England and not in Brazil. I have said it here before that when people ask me why I live here I don’t even have a plausible answer. I just kind of nod (‘Yep, I’m from Brazil!) and say a few sentences hoping that they will suffice. They never seem to do, though, and the reason for that is because I don’t think my answers are convincing enough. It’s hard to even convince myself sometimes. This got me thinking abot what my life would be like, right now, if I was living in Brazil.

I have discussed this with some fellow migrants before, and the majority of us agree that when we move away from home, we tend to do everything a bit later than everybody else. The process of finding our feet in a completely different country with its own rules and no family around to help takes a little time. So, basically, the time we’d be getting on with the ‘normal process’ of life in our native countries, we are finding out how to register with a doctor, apply for citizenship or how to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Now, I’m not assuming here that life has an order, all I’m saying is that people seem to follow patterns and the majority does things according to some kind of unspoken rule: the rule of ‘society’.

The word society, according to the Oxford English Dictonary, means “the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.” Ah, I see… society means that we have to live with a group of people and follow the same rules. I like that. Rules are necessary when we live in a group. And I like it because in no way, shape or form the statement says that we have to be the same. But how is it that, somehow, we seem to think that being the same is the best?

I seemed to have taken longer to find a job that I love, for example. I tried different things (like accountancy) and after hating one particular thing (accountancy), I decided to go back to what I learnt at uni: good and old marketing. And guess what? It was the right thing to do. Had I stayed in Brazil and lived there my whole life, would I have had many jobs? Would I be in my dream job now? Mmmm… I don’t really know the answer. But I can surely ask the question and spend some afternoons wondering what the answer would be.

I also seemed to have taken a little longer in finding the right person to spend my life with (did I, really?). And, again, I’m not even sure if this IS the right person whith whom I’ll be spending the rest of my life with (who knows, anyway?) but hey, for now it definitely is, so let’s go with that. I wonder if I was in Brazil I’d be married with (and here comes the third of my divagations)… KIDS! Now this is something I’ve talked about many a time before and if you read my blogs you may have already read about it (sorry, but here I go again!). The decision of having kids still doesn’t make much sense in my head. For some bizarre reason, I’m not really maternal and, believe it or not, I still feel like a teenager. I did play with dolls when I was a kid, but it was never to be cuddling them, it was to have some kind of control (now that’s a hard one to admit, give me some credit). I used to play that I was this busy mummy that worked a lot and had this busy life and had to juggle everything. I used to play that I was on my phone trying to organise people, places, ballet classes and christenings. Poor me, little weirdo.

Well, I grew up to be very far from what I maybe imagined I’d be by now. I am quite a placid person who hates confrontation. Yes, I say what I thinkmost of the time, but I’d rather never see you again than to have a full-blown argument. I just hate it. I am still the goofy person of always, though. I especially love making fun of myself. This really is my favourite. I still hate peas, but I no longer think I can live off my written word, as I once dreamt. I quickly realised how impossibly hard that would be.

As for organising everything and everyone, I think this may have been one route, but I see myself slowly moving the other way. I can kind of feel the weight of making all the decisions all the time, it’s exhausting. Let it be, for Christ’s sake! Let go of trying to have control of the controllable and the incontrollable.

I feel quite under pressure sometimes, to be doing what other people expect me to be doing. At my (tender) age of 33, maybe I was supposed to be doing this or that, but hey, I’m not (or maybe I am, who knows?). Still, though, I feel this pressure hanging around, but what annoys me the most is that I actually fall pray of this little machine called society and these unspoken ideas about what I should be doing with my own life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish it didn’t affect me but hey, it does, somehow. And this is what drives me crazy. I wish I didn’t care one bit about what other people think and I wish I didn’t worry about turning right or left and the effects such turns can have in my life.I should go for it a bit more, perhaps, and just see what happens… I shouldn’t worry about pleasing everybody, this is never going to happen anyway.

Ok, rant over! And to end it well, here’s to a life with NO RULES!

PS: right, just for the record, nothing bad happened to me, I just got really carried away with thinking about rules, expectations, ageing and reality. And then I had to share my thoughts here with you, poor reader. 😉

 

Categories: Babies, Brazil, Dreams, Living away from home | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rules of engagement

I guess the main thing I had to comply with when I decided to move to England permanently was that in this country rules are usually followed. In Brazil, we have a theory that if rules are getting in the way, we may just overlook them and that’s it. I’m not talking about big things like politics, etc, because we all know that in that sector Brazil fails miserably. I’m talking about the little rules of our everyday life. The rules that make us make sense of living within a community.

When I just moved here, I was in the car with my then husband and we were approaching some crossroads. I saw the lights turn to red and, even so, decided I was still able to cross it, based on the “you still have 5 seconds after the lights turn to red” rule created by myself when I used to drive in Brazil. Oh my God! I unleashed a beast in the car! Then husband nearly had a heart attack as I went through the lights and I got a massive telling off including “Do you want to kill us?” and “Are you going crazy” comment type of reaction. That day, it became clear that I better watch myself in this country.

Another one: drink and drive. Never ever would you think of doing this in England, even when in Brazil, despite all the rules, fines and points you can get for it, nobody really obeys. It’s absolutely wrong to do it, and I’m amazed that people here follow this rule with no questions asked. And when I say no questions asked, I mean that they don’t even consider it. It’s amazing and SO right! (and at the same time, I’m SO not used to it! – but still follow it, of course).

Another one: using your indicators. In Brazil, nah… no such bother. Here, all I can hear in my car when driving (unless I’m on a very long straight road like a motorway, which really never happens) is the tic tac, tic tac of the indicators. Good girl, me.

But it’s not just in traffic that the ‘following the rules rule’ is followed with no complaints. People form queues, people say please and thank you, people let other people go first, people don’t say rude things to other people in the street. Is this what they call civilization? I like it, I like it a lot. And I think I really got used to it, because when I go back to Brazil, certain things leave me gobsmacked!

I’m not trying to say that one country is better than the other, not at all. I’m talking about differences and how certain nationalities behave differently. If I was to give any advice to anyone wanting to make England their home, I’d say: follow the rules and you will be fine, you will fit right in.

Now, if you wanted to move to Brazil, my advice would be quite another. Get yourself some good sunglasses because there, my friend, you have to get used to what the Brits can’t have and crave so much: a glorious sunshine.

Categories: Brazil, Living away from home, My home, Rules | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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