Sunday, May 23, 2010


I love grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Before you turn up your nose you must, as everyone constantly says to me, give it a try. The way that the peanut butter melts into the jelly, the warmth and crispness of the bread, the great big goopy mess of everything, the smell that fills the space giving your stomach a wake up call, it is a truely magnificent sandwich.

In Portugal I would be looked at funny for saying that I love a sandwich. I can really really really like the sandwich. I can adore the sandwich. I can say that the sandwich is the best thing ever. But to say that I LOVE the sandwich would instantly set me apart as someone not of this land.

In Portugal (in my experience) you love your family. You love your spouse. You might be able to love your country though I've never tried to say that. Other than those things I'm not sure that you say, "Love" to too much more than that.

Now I can understand the Portuguese mentality to an extent. Do I really love the new book that I just read? Do I really love chocolate? Or the new Facebook application? Does my claiming love for every little thing that pops up in my life cheapen the word? I don't know.

But I miss love. I miss hearing people claim that they care about something other than bloodties enough to say they love it. I miss people loving their job. I miss people loving an activity. Music, food, the ocean. I love a lot of things, certainly not in the same way that I love my family or the spouse that I one day hope to have. But I know that the way that my heart warms when I go to my friends house and their child laughs and reaches for me is more than me really really liking her. I know that the way my spirit lifts when I hear the first few beats of the first dance song of the evening are more than me adoring the individual notes that I hear. I know that, even on my most difficult of days, there is no other kind of work that I want to dedicate myself to and that the feeling that I have in front of the classroom or working one on one is soooo much more than appreciation.

I have conformed. While the word love has moved into one of the rarer words I use, (which makes me very very sad to type) I will happily look about the world I live in with love that hopefully pours out in my actions, my language, my very eyes, to the point that when people want to describe me to others they will be forced, despite nationality, custum or habit, to use the word... love.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The fight

Last night I went to Rock n Rio. A concert/fair/music explosion of sorts. I was looking forward to watching John Mayer and maybe checking out the Shakira concert as well. I had decided to go alone and just appreciate the music and the freedom to have some time to myself, with several thousand screaming people.

John Mayer was amazing. He can play a guitar, wow, like no one I’ve ever seen. Including at one point him laying the guitar flat on the ground and kneeling over it and then playing it without even holding the thing. It was ridiculous. When he sang “Why Georgia” I thought I was going to bust a vocal cord. It was so much fun and I had wheedled my way close enough to the stage that had I had a baseball John Mayer and I could have played catch. Which would have been fun.

After John Mayer finished (doesn’t he just seem like one of those people who you ought to say their first and last name, even when you’re talking to them) I made my way through the crowds to the rollercoaster that had been set up. I was so psyched because even though this had nothing on the Vortex or the Great American Scream Machine it was still a rollercoaster and it had the added bonus of cars that spun around in circles as you went up and down the tracks. Oh, yeah, and the cars were mice, one of whom was smoking a cigarette. Ok, so a little strange, but they were from Spain, so… whatever ;) Since I was on my own I ended up in a car with the two ladies in front of me, one of whom was probably about 13 and I am convinced had never ridden a rollercoaster before and the other, her cousin/sister/I don’t know who was decidedly cute and about my age. The car had some buttons on it that would add special effects and I asked the girls if they wanted to press the button and the younger girl said, in a no-time-for-a-breath-but-I’m-still-talking-somehow stream of consciousness in no uncertain terms, that she absolutely positively didn’t want anyone thinking of pressing the button. So I did… no not really, that would have been mean. And then the ride started and the girl started screaming and her friend and I started laughing and the ride started spinning and then a cat ate our car and there was a constant flow of what sounded like appeals to a higher power from the girl and more laughter from us and then the ride was over. As I asked the girl if she was ok as she shakily got off the ride she said that she was, in-between her continuing flow of unbelieving statements about how that was craziness to get on something like that. I thanked the ladies, waved and walked off to go hear Shakira. Which is when the craziness began…

I am leaning against a building. A man stumbles, steps on me while spilling beer on me. Words are spoken. Then the crowd begins to perk up. Heads turn. Bodies scramble away. A woman is knocked into and collapses at my feet. Suddenly where there was once a crowd, people are now shoving each other to get away. I see a man with no shirt on come out of nowhere and a vicious head-rocking right cross is thrown. There is blood. And screaming. More fighters show up. We are standing toe to toe. I don’t know what to do but Shakira has long since been forgotten. Angry women are trying to hold the men back. Beer is thrown on the shirtless man. And then I am surrounded by security. The man who threw the punch and the man who spilled beer on me have disappeared. The security talks so fast, asking what happened, I don’t understand and shrink back into the wall that I was leaning against before all this happened and try to disappear as well.

And then I left. Because security didn’t care about me, they were trying to figure out what happened with all the people who were fighting around me. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and after listening to some more of the concert, which was surprisingly good, Shakira puts on a good show, I decided it was time to get home. I walked away with slightly sticky feet from having a drop or two of beer spilled on them, a smile because I’d very much enjoyed my time, aside from watching a fight break out around me between some very intoxicated men, and a story, which is always a good thing.