Ten days ago we left for Argentina. We left having made a big decision about our future in Brazil, that after five months we’d put in the good fight and that when we returned we’d spend the final part of the grant in a coastal city where I have a friend I met many moons ago in Germany. Part of me felt a bit defeated- had I really let Brasília get to me? Had I really let it win? When I arrived here I was utterly determined to spend all of my nine months in what I knew would be a strange capital, dedicated to the university, to the research group, to my advisor, at all costs. I had won a prestigious grant to spend time here and here I should stay put. Like one of the cement buildings this place is so known for. Steadfast. Determined. Then five months past and despite my best efforts, things kept being difficult. I made a handful of friends at university, but only one true friend. I audited a course. I took a Portuguese class. I went to conferences. I met expats. Something about this place just wasn’t working. On Mondays I had the class I audited and during the other 6 days of the week, I usually spent at least 5 of them working solitarily. By myself. The Swede worked in one area of the apartment, and I worked in the other. This set-up did produce a pretty nice first chapter, submitted and now being revised, hell, I’ve even made a dent in the second– but I kept thinking… did I fly half-way across the world and give up a solid and structured life for this? To sit by myself for 5 days a week? You see, I’m generally very social and in my nearly 32 years have never found it so difficult to meet people, maintain contact with said people and eventually arrive at some sort of friendship. What was I doing so terribly wrong? Was it Brasília? Was it Brazil? Was it me? In the end, I stopped questioning myself and started listening to myself. To that big red organ that provides a compass for us and beats intensely in our chest to remind us that we are alive. It turns out that I am very much alive and that this place was making me feel otherwise.
So tomorrow friends, we make the move. My advisor here ‘understands’ and more importantly the Bright of Fulls has wholeheartedly approved the transition. I’m scared and filled with trepidation but the thought of staying here another 4 months in the only thing worse than those fears. So our bags are packed and we are off yet again, on this, the final journey of these 9 months, with less than four to go.
To end this post on a more chipper note, our trip was absolutely lovely and absolutely what the doctor ordered. It was filled with gorgeous food, people, architecture, culture, conversations, oh, did I mention the people? I realized that no matter how hard I try my Portuguese will never compete with my Spanish. I guess a 17-year love affair can never be topped by a fling. So, if I learned one solitary lesson on the shores of Montevideo or in the coffee shops of Buenos Aires, beyond that I need people in my life, it is that I want to be a Spanish Professor who dabbles in Portuguese, and not the other way around. I’d love to teach a few intro language courses in Port, maybe a Brazilian lit course or two, but beyond that, I’m just fine thanks. So it turns out that in life sometimes you have to choose your health over your career, learn how to keep it simple and never mess with a good thing.