Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Leaving Seattle

A friend asked me how I was feeling last week. I told her that if I was to sum it up in one word, that word would be "tired". I feel beat up, in every sense of the word. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially, everything has kinda flipped onto its head since I first arrived to Seattle. I had a plan, I thought I had it all figured out, but now, everything has changed, and if I had to sum it up, I could attest it to three things: work, love and taxes.

So first is work. I technically work three jobs and own a business. I think after being in Brazil I've become more aware of my emotions and I can say that I've become more cognizant of the jobs that put me in a state of emotional (and sometimes physical) anxiety to where I find myself questioning the point of living. Then there are those where I quite enjoy and feel a renewed sense of purpose. The problem is that the latter very seldom pays anything. And it's not as if the former doesn't serve it's own purpose; I've come to understand much more of the world in doing what you would consider "legitimate employment" and in many, practical ways, it is needed. I guess there is always a human element in everything. 

Then there's love. Something happened during the time I was here, something that I'll write about one day, but not today. I'm still not in a place where I'll treat it fairly. But the take-away is very clear: life is about impermanence and nothing is guaranteed. You also find out the truth about yourself when you are hurt. That's all I'll say about it for now.

Now taxes. This is the first year where I've actually produced a significant profit from my business and the money from the Fulbright bumped me into a different tax bracket. Not getting into the specifics, but I've had to pay a lot more in taxes than I anticipated, to which the majority of the funds that I was saving for Brazil have disappeared. I still have enough to return, but it's made the circumstances a bit more dire. In some ways, I'm grateful for it. It's like when you're being starved, and forced to go out and find food. It pushes you to a place to where you either survive or you die. In some ways, I think that's what I've always needed, the pressure to succeed or fail. But that possibility of failing is very real. What if I do fail? Where will that leave me?

But it hasn't been all bad, I mean in retrospect, I would say I did pretty good here. In spite of all the things I've gone through, never once did I abandon my training and I chose not to hurt someone who hurt me when I could have. I have a better understanding of friendship, family, and good god, did I get a fucking lecture on love. But it was my people, always my people, that carried me through. 

I actually haven’t lived a lot of life. The majority of my understanding comes from hearing the stories of those I know. From heartbreaks to victories, to new births and the passing of kin, Seattle has been just as much a stage for the human condition as Rio was, I just haven’t been paying attention this whole time. Seeing how people have grown through pain and joy, suffering and triumph, has really made me respect life much more than I did before. 

I have good people here. My final goodbye party meant a lot, the people that showed up. People from all different eras of my life came to see me off, and seeing them interact with one another moved me. Some of them came from far cities and new families, and I asked them to come out to see me in a bar in Capitol Hill. That's not exactly the easiest thing for some people, but they did it, for me. I felt loved that night, and that was probably the most beautiful gift they could have given me. 

The people here have sent me off well, but while their stories have made me appreciate the city more, I also know that I'm not supposed to be here right now. I don't know if that place is Rio, but it's not here, not right now.

I no longer know if I am going back to embrace a new life or to say goodbye to an old one. Part of me feels like I am trying to recapture something that is no longer there. Everything has changed since I left, at least everything that mattered to me. They pacified Maré, my landlord may sell the apartment in which I live, and my relationships with Flora is different. Maybe stronger, but it's still too soon to tell. Different is all I can be sure of. 

If I’m to say how I feel about going back to Rio, I’m scared. Plain and simple. I have no idea what to expect. But I'm also tired of waiting. I miss the city, I miss the spirit, and goddamn, I miss my fucking girlfriend.

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