The Bracelet and The Key

I have found my bracelet. Mysteriously like everything else that happens here in Colombia. In this mixture of  Africa, Europe and indigenous culture we can expect anything to happen. I however, never expected   for the first email that I got as a response to my last to come from Palestine, from my first Palestinian friend I had met the first day when I crossed the separation wall. That day it was the birthday of his best friend, and so Lorenzo (who is now here with me) was also there. It was in Ahmad s house that I met Lorenzo for the first time. This only came to mind as I read Ahmads email saying he thought it was a beautiful story and that he wished I found my misplaced bracelet, and that he wished he could be here with us.

I was  exasperated first to find out Ahmad read me. I somehow never thought he did. Then I was touched he  understood it was important for me a lost  bracelet, as I did understand in life sometimes we put emotions in things. And I had mine  ( feelings of belonging) there. And somehow in reading his words, I remembered the keys Palestinians kept since Al Naqbah ( the great disaster when Palestinians lost their houses..). Palestinians kept
the key to the front door of their houses, when they had to leave them in 48, hoping one day to return.The key is full of symbolic meaning. And I till  very recently used to feel we should all just let things go and move on. Now thought I still carry this belief in me, I understand, we must do it, but not before profoundly understanding where it came from. And yesterday I understood that well.

We went out dancing, Cartagena is the land of dancing. I love dancing. I have friends from my hostel, but also locals now. And as usual I put people together. And I danced, and danced. And yet…. there was this loneliness in me last night so I walked away from my friends…and I wandered off. I was taken by a looking like middle eastern guy to dance. He was a brilliant dancer. And I was silent. I danced without saying anything particular of me. And I felt so happy. And suddenly just as he came from nowhere… he disappeared.

I, for my own shortcomings, felt abandoned, and even sadder… And I kept wandering in that place. I had a desire to cry. In fact, I just could not contain my tears… so I cried feeling like a boat that is wandering aimlessly and does not want to be seen by any fellow sails men. I remembered Ishmael in Moby Dick.

And as I made my way around and was taken to dance by other Colombians. I decided to just not care about anything anymore yet I was sad and did not want to loose connection to what i felt.. It took me so much to get here. I could not trace where it came from this saddness. Or maybe, I could the beginnings of it… but not deeply it…. I had no courage to follow the thread of my feeling of loss. And suddenly, I bumped into the guy again. And I decided to talk to him.

It was a great thing to do. Because now he has a story. My abandonment was just mine. And it had no relationship to the world.

This middle eastern looking like, came from San Diego. He was born out of a father that came form Colombia, and a mother from Mexico. Though he looked in his 30s he was 19. He had just started a trip through South America to find out where he came from. His own father left Colombia when he was 11 to become American . Chris, the boy, had never been here. He was also a climber and had saved money to come to a trip to south america. It would pass through Brazil as in California he joined some Brazilian church.

So we stood out and talked. He told me about being raised by a grandmother who usually had described the house she was from. It was hand made by the family. It was there that his father was born. Now he had been to Bogota and had visited this house. I had tears in my eyes listening to him trace back the journey of his life. Discovering all that he came from, and yet knew not. We spent hours speaking and I understood why I needed to make internal home.

I understood the keys from Palestine. I understood the need we all have to go back and understand things. This boy is wondering south america learning a new language and meeting people. He is deeply religious… and yet all I could see of his trip was how human it was.

By the time he finishes he expects to be able to speak better Spanish. He expects to talk more to his family. I expect him to find out, what is south american of him. I understood last night so much of this existential quest. I understood though I did not carry a key like that of Al Naqbah ( the great disaster) I also did wish I could go back to my home. Yet for all of us it might be unreachable. We do not need the key, nor the house, but somehow we need to understand where do we come from.

Being here makes me understand so much of me as a traveler. It also makes me understand Al Naqbah much more deeply. So I wish one day my Palestinian friends will, (like I hope I do) understand we dont need to carry a key, or a bracelet. We need to carry a bigger space inside. One that allows us to create what we are. I do understand though today that we all must take this journey to an nonexistent past by carrying some special things.

So as I mysteriously reencounter my bracelet, jut as I loose my key to my lock. I am taken by joy the bracelet is still containing me, while happiness the lock can be broke. I ask for someone to break it. I get my passport back, my money and I feel both contained by those I love, and yet free to find out where I ll go.

Cartagena and the Bracelets

bracelet

Usually as I see things, I want to tell them to the world. Here is the same.. But
writing is a bit harder now because when I am not doing something I feel I
should rest… Yet I have 3 stories I want to tell and if I do not
write now tomorrow there will be 4 things that I will have to weave
together.

You all know I have a strong relationship with Palestinians, Israelis
and Italians. So I left Brazil having just spoken to an Israeli who
lives in Italy.  We spoke and I said farewell to Brazil and when I got
to Colombia I met Lorenzo, a friend from Italy whom I had met in Palestine.

He used to live there, now he lives here. He is a very special person. Who I have written about when I was taken by him ( against my will) to see the wall in Bethelehem with three of my friends from Nablus in Palestine. Those of you who have read me since then must remember it.

I was furious with him that day. Here it is a reencounter. A third
continent we see each other in.  He knows me so well. He makes me eat. He has
introduced me to a place he has been living in for a while. And most
importantly, he introduced me to his family who is here visiting him.

So my atypical trip started by me recovering, joining 2 italian families who know each
other for decades. Through these families I am being introduced to
Colombia. I who can barely eat am being made to eat slowly. Eat well.
And I who can barely speak Portuguese have to have complicated
conversations in Italian, swap to Spanish, English French several
times a day. To Lorenzo I speak Portuguese and now it feels like
resting.

I spent Christmas with them. Italians are hilarious. They are so
sacred about their food. And they remind me sometimes of my father with
how much it matters the food that it is put inside. Hunger can not be
wasted they say. I who can not waste hunger either (but for physical
reasons) am learning to really appreciate the food I eat.

So it was in one of these lunches that I met a Colombian woman who
knew some men Lorenzo ( my italian friend) knows. She looked at my
Chinese bracelet and commented on it. I told her it was from china and
she showed me hers.

It was made of the same material. Yet hers were three that had been
put together. She wore them and one day the love relationship she was
in broke and so did the bracelet. They separated and one of them broke
off. She took it away and locked it away. She eventually, fell in love
again, one day that relationship broke off  as well, and the second
bracelet also out of the blue broke out. She locked it away with the
first one.

I heard her and as a true south American I am discovering myself to be
I asked her whether she was starting a new relationship. She confirmed
it. It immediately came to me a story I had heard a week before. Someone
important to me had read it, It was a short story about some man who had
fished a beautiful bracelet out of the sea and had given it to his wife and fell in
love with her when she had it. He then died and some other married man fell in love
with the lady who had the bracelet.

In realizing it she gave the bracelet to the wife of that man. And so the man fell madly in love with his wife. Eventually as they decided moving houses and she used
the bracelet to tie the wires of a computer her husband fell in
love with the computer, and more precisely with writing. As this wife
also noticed this love the bracelet created she decided to break it
into pieces and asked her nephew to throw it in the sea. The nephew then fell
in love with the sea.

I heard the story and told my friend who  had read it that to me what
made me moved was to think of how love is not on things. It is in
relationships and yet sometimes we need something symbolic to see
it…. and yet this women, this archetypical women of the book don’t
want that power, they return the love that does not belong to them
either to the person who it belongs to ( first wife), or even to the
sea. And the sea for me is water, it is movement, emotion, they return
love to it all…

I tell the story to the lady. Not entirely sure why. She looks deep
into my eyes and tells me that that was the greatest gift she had
gotten for Christmas. She had locked away those broken bracelets but
had lately been thinking to throw it in the sea. Before thinking much
I said ” do it”.  Not sure why I told her then…

And after i understood why… We all have to close cycles to start new ones.

Today Lorenzo and his family invited me to go to an island. We took
the boat there… it reminded me as I entered the boat and felt the
sea in my foo that just before me waking up sick I had been the day
before in the sea. As I made my way to the island i thought of the
bracelets, and of my health.

Yet in the Island i started to do yoga for the first time as I sat in
the sand. It was also the last thing i did before being sick yoga in
the beach and the sea. And then as i deeply enjoyed discovering this
new body I live in.. A little Colombian boy sat watching me. Usually,
I would have just kept my practice. But yet there was a child and I
could not. I asked his name, and decided to teach movements to him. And
within seconds I had 4 young boys talking to me. I learned their
songs’. I learned their lyrics.. And when they were gone I entered the
sea. I sang. It was no perfect singing but I could sing to the sea. I
had nothing to return to it. Just maybe my difficulty of speaking.
Maybe i wanted to thank the sea, I am not sure… so I sang whatever came to mind.

Ironically or not, I can not know what I did to my Chinese bracelet. I
dont know where it is. I am still hoping to find where i misplaced it.
I never minded loosing things. Yet this bracelet was given to me by my
grandmother.

I know perfectly well what are the things that I am supposed to throw
to the sea. But maybe I am not yet ready. But at some point if  we
want to start something new we must return things to the sea. They
might be back. But we can t lock things up. Broken things. We must let
go what makes no sense. So that we can be in what makes sense.

And what makes most sense to me now. Is to go have dinner with Lorenzo
and his family. They are making me much healthier and happier.
Love from mysterious Colombia.

ju

Ps: I wrote this post last night, I sent it and my first reply came from the Palestinian who introduced me to Lorenzo 🙂 He wished to be here, and wished for me to find my bracelet. As I went to bed yesterday I found it… under me. Who knows how .. who cares..? I wished Ahmad could be here too…

Colombia and Dona Inah

I fly above Colombia. I feel sooo much joy that I cant decide whether
I am like an addict that is just trying to go back to it. So I quit
writing. I pause and decide I should be silent and just feel it.

I feel so much joy to have random conversations with people around in
the airport of Bogota. See the elderly men who look like they have
just fallen out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I remember in my
body what i love about going alone to places i don’t know. I watch
from the distance. The little intricacies of a society that is unknown
to me.

So I stop writing and I start to try to remember what is it that I
want to go back to. I know… I still do… But I wonder how much I am
in essence a nomad. Then I put music to listen.

I listen to Dona Inah. Dona Inah is a 76 samba legend in Sao Paulo.  I
ve known her for many  years.. But the first time I talked to her was
on my birthday this november. I was in my favourite place. The Bar of
Cidao who died while I was away this year. And of which I have spoken
so much of.

I celebrate my birthday in this little bar.. It is my place in Brasil.
I was so sad to go there when I came back bc Cidao was not there. But
now it is for me the bar of Rose ( his wife) whom I always talk to. It
was the last place I went before I got sick, and the first I went to
when i could move again. So it was where I decided to celebrate my
birthday. on a monday, with my closest friends.. At around 3 am Dna
Inah in her 76 of age shows up.

She like me, i found out later, finds it hard to go there without
Cidao. She knew him for too many years. He was a dear friend to her.
She is something like the Cesaria Evora of Samba in Sao Paulo.So I,
barely recovering, went up to her and asked her to sing a song in my
bithday. She did. I was beyond happy.

After that I went to her concert and I sat with her listening to her
tell me her life. They were really epic stories. I encouraged her to
come back to Cidao more often. She told me it was hard for her. yet 2
days later she came. and I again asked her to sing a song i loved. She
did.

I had taken with me a friend from childhood i had not seen in 16 years
(as she lives abroad for all these years). Heloisa, my friend, is a
brilliant pianist, and she was like me dazzled by encountering these
beautiful places in sao paulo. These gems in Sao Paulo.

And then I came to Colombia and I love it. And my whole body is soo
excited. But as i put dona Inah to sing here. I recognise this old
voice. Now, not only, she sounds as the amazing woman as she always
has.. But now as I hear  her  i know her stories. I know   her health.
I know her.

I now know where to go to hear it. So through music again I can
remember what is this new journey I am trying to travel. The one of
more consistency.

I am so happy to be in Colombia. I am about to get to famous
Cartagena! And I love it. But As I hear all the songs Dona Inah sings
it makes me realise I need to be back to hear her more often. To hear
her stories. i want to go back to the bar of cidao where I now know
every single musician.

Building a home when you so easily get sidetracked like me is very
hard. When, like me,  I get to meet only the nicest things everywhere
makes it easier to choose to keep going. But, maybe, there is some
balance I can find. I am not  yet sure how.

Where I can keep all  these wonderful people in my life and yet have a
home. i dont know how to… but I want to.

The most important thought of this flight is:  it is the first in a
long time that I care about. Every single other one I had no fear of
dying. These time, I have, no fear either, but I have a desire to
live. To see. To find out more clearly what is this journey all about.

I start a conversation with the beautiful black woman next to me. She
is from Cartagena. She works as a maid in Bogota. She has abandoned
her 2 children in Cartagena.  She  has to work. I have heard stories
like these all over. It reminds me of the children of Asia. I tell her
what I can. Let them know how much you are suffering. I dont know the
lady. She is a tough one. Somehow I see she is suffering. I seat there
the embodiment of someone who has no ” real economic politic
problems”. Yet I talk to her of what comes to my mind what I feel will
help her. In the end, she is concerned about me getting to the hotel.
She tells me her life.

It is one more precious life that I have heard. One more different and
yet the same  than all others. I get to Cartagena and I love it. I am
brought to the Hostel. This is home to me. The travellers. Their
thoughts. Their existencial quest. It all dazzles me yet it feels less
profound than before. They are amazing people. I can connect to them
in seconds we have all been to too many continents. I seat quiet for a
while reading Mia Couto. The Mozambican author.

Then I loose it, and I go back to talking to travellers.

I do not know the balance yet. Since I got sick I for the first time
do Yoga. I observe how much less flexible I am now. How much weaker. I
am not shocked. It is what it is. It is what I asked for. The human
discovery. In my own body, I feel, the plurality I defend  in the
world. Today I inhabit a different body then I did before. I am yet
not sure what it makes me think.

It is morning here. In very few seconds I will connect with  it. But
as I seat to finish writing what I started yesterday I listen to Dona
Inah. And in my whole body I am ready to listen to Colombian music,
hear peoples stories, connect to whoever shows up. But in her voice
there is something broken. I know what it was. She told me about it. I
recognize it. I know her story more. And so her voice is yet more
beautiful to me. Yet there is some nuances I cant know. Only with time
it might make more sense to me.

I remember once again that beauty is in recognition. I recognize this
life style. It is what I lived for so long. It is beautiful to me.
Yet, maybe, I should learn to recognize something else. I dont know…
something we can build in time. I am not sure. But I am open to find
it  out.

love,
Me

A More Gentle Path

I have been meaning to write for a long time. I thought about the small stories I observe around. And yet what I have to say is too private, too difficult but I feel I owe it to myself. And to you who have supported me in so many ways. So at the risks, of being offensive, I start by already appologizing. I ll try my best to be as gentle and as kind as I have never been.

 

I am better. I am not perfect I still not speak properly nor can eat much. Which both things have turned out to be good. Made me more observing, silent, and more cautious of what I put inside of my body. Yet, it is rather hard for those around who see me skinnier and skinnier when that is def not my goal.
There are many languages of descripitions for things we live. My neurologist has his, my musician friends theirs, and I have my own. So it is of mine that I will speak today.
I was asked by a Musician these days why did I get sick. Why I thought I got sick. I gave him the history of me being sick but was of course incapable to tell him why I thought I was sick. Yet those words have stayed with me these weeks. And through so much pain, and support I have had so far.. I came out with my own narrative. It is one that makes sense to me. And is the one I want to share with you.
Most of you know me. Most of you have encountered me in one or other place in the world and have known how much I care about people. How much I open myself to total strangers. And you also know.. that almost always I have to just keep going.
I grew up like this. I was born in an upper class family in Sao Paulo who supported me enormously and yet I always felt enormously lonely and abandoned. They had a vision for who I should be. And I was just someone else. Someone who needed to be taken care of. Someone so fragle and so affected by the world around that I needed probably more support that they could see.
I dont blame my parents for this…at all.. it has been , and still is a very difficult journey for all of us to understand each other. And it suffix to say that I grew up searching for the love, and the support I needed everywhere else. In friends, in strangers.. I always found it. And maybe because of this enormous loneliness I always felt…. I loved as many people as I could because I was afraid to be abandoned.
I of course, never really realised this… I thought I was strong, independent and could find my way wherever I was with the people I encountered bc I was capable to connect to anyone.
When, I was in hospital for the first day, this time… my cousins, my brother, and Gustavo the guy I was seing spent hours there with me. Feeling this independence that I do… I told them to go. I was used to being alone, and managing with what I had around. My cousin, Olivia, held my hand and told me “That is good, but you no longer need that”
I cant explain how much that has moved me, and how much that has shaped all this recovery that I am having now.
It was on that day that I started to understand how fragile I am. How much I need a home, love. To be needed, and cared for. How much it was important for me to care for all the people around me.
Lots and lots and lots of things happen in this process.
And I wont write all about it.

What I want to say here is what I find important that I understood these days …

Many of you are also travellers. Many of you are out there…. searching like I did. Some of you have very stablished internal homes… others  like me are a bit lost.
Some of you are in a fix place and are lost.
And that is all fine. We all have to take different journeys.

I feel that the most important path to follow is the following:

Creating an internal home. Accepting our fragility, and being more gentle and caring with those around. Allowing for people to care about us… and being vulnerable to it.
I am not saying that out of any moralism, or religious teaching. I am saying that from my skin. My soul. My heart.
I really thought I was going to die.. and did not much care about it bc there was nothing truly here that made me want to stay. I cant point to an specific day that things changed… they just did.
Suddenly I understood ( in my language of description) what I had. And it comes from understanding that though I tried so hard to be a good person. I was good in the surface, but this loneliness I always thought was deep in me. It kept me from loving others, because I could not fully love myself. I could love fo brief moments..and then I fled… I asked from others this love that I lacked. Others who could obviously not be able to do give it to me.
I was a horrible wife to my husband, bc I was uncaring, I of course disguised with detachment of buddhism, or i don’t know what. The truth is that I just could not be there.I did not know how to be. And I left. He is a wonderful person, and had to learn his own lessons through this. Yet, I fled.
And once I left I started to searc in the path for meaning. Through volunteering, hearing stories, and love ….In one of these things there must me meaning. And yet all the encounters though they were profound… they were profound for as long as I could not be vulnerable to them… then I always left…
I fell in love with an Israeli, and I never wrote about this here, and I moved with him, and he was the male version  of me. He knew me so well, and I felt for once remotely home, that terrified me and I ran away because I just could not do it.
And that is when my total lack of desire to live started. If I could not even find home in love. If I were totally incapable of it.. What else could I do? I searched in metaphysical paths, in stories and yet there was an incapacity to stay still inside of me that made me move so much… that made most people who know me always feel I had so much desire to live.
I confess it was not desire to live… It was a desire to find whether there was some point to life. To so much suffering.
Yet, this all changed now. I am still recovering. I am healing my soul. I am discovering myself. How much what made me move was fear. And not bravery. Though they are always together.

And how in the movement I always encountered precisely what I could .. is something that dazzles me.

 

And now, after this almost death, I believe firmly we must all take more care of each other. We have to take more care of the consequences of our actions. We can employ any religious, theoretical discourse to go living a life of following our instincts and desires.  But to me, that led me to satisfy my ego, but never “my soul”
Ultimately, it made me disconnect from who I am. Be proud of who I was in the surface but not in the inside. Not loving what I am inside, I had to ask too much to all the people I got involved with. I had to have them to satisfy my own lack of love. And I could never trust any of them to do so. And I always fled.
I feel it is sad I lost so many amazing people along the way. Though now… I understand it was what we could live then. That is it.
Nowadays… what I wish to all that I know is not to get what you want, but to transform in the best way you can with what happens to you. Some of you learn faster than me. I am stubborn. I had to go through all of this to understand it in my skin.
It was tough, but now I am sincerely thankful.

I wish you all a beautiful life. A life where you are more present in what you do. That you are responsible to your actions. No one, expects to live a life without  ever suffering.. but what i finally understood it is that what is important is for you to stay once that happened. Be responsible. Be gentle. Be patient.  ( all the things I am still leaning how to do ).

And if you are a parent. Remember how difficult is this balance of love and support and freedom. Actually,  in all of our interactions this is so difficult to understand. We are individuals in a social world.
I am more certain than ever that we must take much more care of each other, supporting people in their freedom, but always letting them know… they are needed.. missed.. wanted there.
When I was in Israel this time. I impulsively bought a ticket to go to India. My dear dear friend Michal wrote me saying
” I know you are impulsive but this time that hurt me. I was expecting to spend time with you. And now you just go. I am hurt and sad”
That movement of containment was as important as my cousin telling me i did not need to know to be on my own. That day I canceled my tickets and went to stay with Michal. Till the day I decided to come home, which she understood well.
So, yes,  this is my most private email ever. And I write it bc I hope it helps someone. Because I have become such a public person.. through this life. that people write me… and I am happy and thankful for that.
I dont expect to now never to travel again.. I love the people and the places I have been to. They are part of me. I just expect to be able to be more in place when I do. I expect that I am more careful and in place. More gentle to those who are close. To be able to fully be.

If I am able to do so speaking and eating like I did before will be really not that important… Though I of course, hope I can one day say sing again 🙂

 

Lots of love,
Me