Monday, October 22, 2012

Alone-ly lonely lone

"All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot"- Dr. Seuss

Sometimes living so far away gets lonely.

Mozambicans are self-proclaimed "acolhedores." Gatherers. Family, a term not confined to superficial blood bonds, is everything here. So when people see that I am alone, they constantly take me in. Every week, friends invite me to baby showers, sunday brunches and birthdays.

But because my Mozambican friends have been so welcoming, the loneliness mostly hits me when I am surrounded by people, after the third glass of champagne and small talk with someone’s cousin.  I can always feel it coming on, these contractions in my stomach pulling me down, each stronger than the last. I'm trying to keep all these strange names straight. Who broke whose heart, the war, who left, who stayed. Why?

Suddenly I’m paralyzed in my loneliness, desperate for familiar eyes, a shared history. Its like I've been plunged into someone else's story.

I’m out of context in Maputo.  How can someone possibly understand me, unless they understand orange-brick Brazilian buildings, Boston winters, that time on the couch at your aunt’s house?
Where’s New York? Its swirling chaos of cabs, tears, and ambition. "Art."

I miss meat. Salty steaks, French fries so greasy they leave your fingers wet.
Being able to read body language, sarcasm; the grammatical nuances of culture.

It’s time to go. “I have things to do in the States,” I’ll tell myself. “I’ve left conversations unfinished, friendships unexplored. I’ve never been to Cony Island!”

But being plucked out of my context, my family, my history, has made me a little bit fearless.  I have more room to explore who I am.

I can be the kind of girl that takes a surfing trip to Durban. I can cut off all my hair, dance passada until 4 a.m and learn to speak Shangaan. I can cover stories about rap. Because, why not? Ultimately, being alone gives me the freedom to make more mistakes.

Then I hear Fatima sing her sad morning song and the loneliness dissipates.  I feel ready for fresh memories, different people, and new contexts. Cony Island can wait.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have someone else’s family reunion to attend.

1 comment:

  1. Marina, this is incredible!
    I can relate to the situation, but you've lived it to an immeasurable greater degree...