The fellowship of Rainwalkers

Walking in heavy rain is like being part of a tribe.

There’s an instant connection to anyone else braving the elements, holding the umbrella for fear of going Poppins with the wind, a daring to the hurricane to Dorothy you.
I get so many ‘good mornings’ and some belly laughs at the absurdity of the cats and dogs down-pouring. Sometimes I forego the umbrella altogether and let the drops fall to the face, looking up, tongue out, like a frangipani leaf.

Before, most people had to go to the office. Not now. Walking is a deliberate choice, a good one, turns out.

I feel alive. I feel like a knight on a quest. I feel connected to the other brave knights on the road.

Why Australia?

The other side of the world, really? My friends and family have difficulty to understand why, but once explained it gets easier to get.

After I came to the conclusion that I needed a good life in order to feel inspired to write (see the post called “when did I start writing?”) I started looking for ways to achieve that.

I know many people find inspiration and energy inside a depression to write. I knew then as I know now that people write no matter what if they feel the drive. Unfortunately I’m not one of those, I am not good with sadness, with being unhappy or tragedies, it is not my forte. Instead I spend my energy working hard and changing things, making life better and then writing about it when I am feeling energised and inspired, harvesting the work I put into earlier.

Of course I have to keep in perspective the fact that I am quite privileged as the worst that ever happened to me makes for the better that might have happened to a lot of people.

I was in Brazil and was able to find another job, better than the first, but it turned out it was a copy of the other. I worked 70k from home and shared my rides with a colleague who lived in the same area, who then became my good friend, my most avid reader, and eternal supporter of my writing. We talked endlessly about my writing ideas and tidbits I would write here and there. He was instrumental in my realisation that writing was my path and we still connect technologically to exchange news about our lives and our artistic inspirations.

The job was horrendous, the boss was atrocious, we worked long hours and the travelling was dangerous and tiring. On top of that the company was in a city with two smelly factories.

If I had to choose I would say that water is my element, it often features in my dreams in its many forms. Many times water influenced my life.

When I was about two years old I fell on a stream and the water carried me for some distance. In my memory I was carried away in a river for long metres but my parents barely remember the episode so I think my little child inside exaggerates it a lot.

I grew up spending most of my vacations at my grandfather’s ranch by a large fresh water dam and my parents constantly took us to the beach, even though we lived about 4 hours in-land.

I’m strongly attracted to the ocean and spent many vacations thinking deeply on what I could do to live near the sea.

I used to list in my mind all the cities in Brazil’s coast and wonder if I could find a job in any of them. Reminding the reader that this is way before 2003 and therefore there was no google or job listing website allowing me to search for work Brazil-wide.

The only economically viable option was Rio de Janeiro but I never felt a desire to live there due to the security issues. I investigated Fortaleza in the North and Florianópolis in the South but found it hard to believe I would find a reasonably paying job.

The day before I got married we suffered our first and smaller flood. It was my parent’s property with a river running at the far end of a sort of farm house. Six years later there was another flood, this time 2 meters of water inside the house and my then-husband had to be rescued from the top of the house, by a drunken strong man, on a boat, secured by a rope from the higher ground at the front of the property.

This time we lost everything and for me it was the best thing that could have happened. I had always desired to live abroad and that felt as if the Universe had just pushed me out.

Right at that time my cousin, who was living in Sydney, went for a visit and her accounts of the city made it figure in my mind’s map for the first time. Through her I discovered this city, by the ocean, beautiful, first world, English speaking, and with a migration program, which could be the solution to my problems.

I persuaded the then-husband to consider the option and he ended up agreeing and I came in first to have a look. On the second day I decided I never wanted to live, it was home, it was where I found a piece of my soul I didn’t know was missing. It took some months to arrange a visa for me and for him to join me. Four years later, with a lot of hard work and a pastry chef diploma with 900 hours in the kitchen later, I got our permanent residency, and we got divorced shortly after.

To finalise, the reason I moved here was to write and have a good life, and that I am daily achieving.

When did I Start Writing?

At a certain point in my life I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a writer. I find  it hard to remember how or when exactly I got to that point. Probably, a turning point happened when I was about 25 years old and I wrote a short-story that was selected as a finalist for an anthology book. By then I had decided that being a ballet dancer wasn’t for me after all. At 17 I had dropped out of my dance uni degree and moved to advertisement and marketing. At 25 I had been working at a large multinational corporation that was draining my blood.

One day I was driving alone to work, from the car radio I heard a voice saying:

“Writing is your major gift”. I’m aware the phrase is a bit strange but I cannot change the voice from beyond just to fit the English grammar, so I will leave it as is, the closest translation.

That moment I made a decision (based on a voice I imagined because I was delirious of boredom, most probably, but who cares, right?). I had been trying to write more and more and I realised I had to find a way to have a good quality of life to have energy left for writing. If you check the post “why Australia?” you will see how that brought me to Sydney’s beautiful shores.

Although, the decision was made when I was an adult, the more I search for when I started actually writing, the further back I go.

My best friend pointed out to me that none of her childhood friends wrote a story about the time they caught the maid making out with the security guard. I was telling my friend how terrified I was of this maid because she found my story and was very upset at me. Lost in my anguish cause by the upset maid I didn’t realise that most kids don’t write about stuff like I did all the time.

When I first learnt what poetry was, I also sold some poetry to my grandfather which I never delivered because I was then as I am now: hopeless at poetry. I did try though, ended up writing a few lines without an end. I ate my payment in candy and that was that.

I remember the look in the face of my fourth grade teacher when instead of delivering a writing assignment with one page, as I was supposed to do, I delivered twelve pages. Just because I couldn’t cut the story short, stop it in the middle, I had to take the character walking all the way from school to work… Poor teacher, she was a mean one but I’m not sure she deserved that punishment.

A few years later my beautifully-bummed high-school teacher published a book with short-stories, I had a story there. (Beautifully-bummed because as a Brazilian teenager, like all other Brazilian teenagers, I was obsessed with the roundness of people’s behinds around me and such youngish teacher had very nice buttocks that would shake firmly when he wrote on the blackboard.) [Two more notes: I’m still obsessed with round buttocks and at the time it was an actual back board, where you make all that effort to write with chalk.]

While I was on my dancing career path I only thought I would write a book when I retired, I wasn’t really thinking, probably from lack of food, the brain didn’t work very well. I’m grateful to say that I added things up before starving to death and changed my mind. This is my reasoning:

I am not flexible enough to be a prima ballerina + I live in a third world country quite worried about food and health, not art + I can never eat + I am always fat = bad idea.

Once I stopped dancing professionally — I still dance for pleasure — I started writing more, I’ve always had ideas, many, many ideas for being so, even if I had to give up writing about the maid’s kisses.

Quando Comecei a Escrever?

Em certo ponto da minha vida concluí que eu queria ser uma escritora. Acho difícil me recordar exatamente como ou quando cheguei à essa conclusão. Provavelmente um dos momentos decisivos aconteceu quando tinha uns 25 anos de idade e escrevi um conto para os Anjos de Prata, um concurso do Escritor Mário Prata, onde me coloquei em quarto lugar e participei do livro lançado com os melhores do concurso. Àquela altura eu já tinha decidido que ser uma bailarina clássica não era para mim, aos 17 anos eu tinha deixado minha faculdade de dança e mudado para um curso de publicidade e marketing. Aos 25 eu vinha trabalhando em uma grande multinacional que estava drenando minha energia.

Um dia, eu estava dirigindo sozinha para o trabalho, e ouvi a voz do Fernando Morais me dizendo pelo rádio: “escrever é o seu dom maior”. Uma frase um pouco estranha, eu sei, mas não dá para mudar uma voz do além só para fazer o fraseado mais elegante.

Eu costumava ouvir o Fernando Morais falar no rádio então foi a voz dele que imaginei falando comigo, e foi essa frágil loucura que usei para tomar uma decisão. Eu vinha tentando escrever mais e mais e me dei conta que eu tinha que descobrir um jeito de ter uma boa qualidade de vida, para ter energia sobrando para escrever. Se você olhar o texto chamado “Austrália Porque?” vai ver o que me trouxe para a linda cidade Sydney.

Embora a decisão tenha sido feita quando já era adulta, quando mais procuro o momento que comecei a escrever, mais distante no passado eu vou.

Minha melhor amiga me disse que não é todo mundo que escreve histórias de como eles presenciaram a empregada beijando o segurança. Eu estava contando para minha amiga o quanto fiquei com medo da funcionária doméstica porque ela achou minha história e ficou muito brava comigo. Perdida em minha angústia infantil eu nem parei para perceber o quando é incomum, uma criança pequena, escrever sobre sua vida o tempo todo como eu fazia.

Quando eu aprendi o que era poesia eu vendi uma para o meu avô. O coitado nunca recebeu a poesia comprada, porque como poeta eu sou uma excelente novelista. Eu bem que tentei, escrevi algumas linhas sem final. Comi o meu pagamento em balas e foi isso.

Me lembro da cara da minha professora de português da quarta série quando entreguei a ela uma redação de doze páginas ao invés de uma. Eu não poderia parar a história no meio, certo? É claro que a personagem tinha que andar o caminho todo de casa até a escola.  Pobre professora ela era bem chata mas não acho que merecia tamanha punição.

Alguns anos depois meu professor mais lindamente bundado do colegial publicou um livro de contos, e um deles era meu. (Lindamente bundado porque como boa adolescente brasileira eu era obcecada com a beleza das redondezas posteriores ao meu redor, e esse professorzinho novinho tinha um par de redondezas muito belas que chacoalhavam firmemente quando ele escrevia no quadro-negro.) [Dois outros comentários: Eu ainda sou obcecada por belas bundas e naquela época era mesmo um quadro-negro, daqueles que dá um trabalho danado de escrever com giz.]

Enquanto eu ainda progredia na minha carreira de bailarina eu pensava em escrever um livro quando me aposentasse. Acho que não pensava muito claramente, devia ser por falta de alimento. Sou bastante grata de poder dizer que eu calculei as coisas melhor antes de morrer de fome e mudei de idéia. Esse foi meu raciocínio:

Eu não tenho muita flexibilidade muscular para ser uma prima bailarina + eu moro num país de terceiro mundo que se preocupa muito mais com comida e saúde do que com arte + eu nunca posso comer o que quero + eu sempre acho que estou gorda = péssima idéia.

Quando parei de dançar profissionalmente — ainda danço por prazer — comecei a escrever mais, sempre tive milhares de idéias para escrever mesmo tendo que desistir de escrever sobre os beijos da moça que trabalhava lá em casa.

Top of the World

I’m at the top of the world. At least what I was told is the highest restaurant in Australia, The Eagle’s Nest, after taking the Kosciuszko Express lift in Thredbo. It definitely feels like the top of the world.Since my legs aren’t very happy to ski this morning, I have decided to come to do something else I love doing…

Eagles Nest

I came to the mountains to ski, but my very-advanced-beginners level is letting me down today and I’m not even reaching an intermediate-beginners level. I feel tired with muscles screaming. It might be because I’m not very fit this year or maybe it has to do with sharing a room with 4 people, who took forever to go to bed yesterday, after a long drive from Sydney meaning I went to sleep almost 3am. Then a $ˆ#ing phone rang three times between then and 5am. The very unconsidered person did not turn the phone off even after I asked her to.

It is difficult to go back to sleep because you keep thinking “in which world, does this person thinks this is okay?” We all had to wake up early to get breakfast, ski gear and passes, before seven I was up with a headache. I’ve upgraded for tonight to a very single, wonderful, phone-ringing-and-conversation free room.

I have decided to make the best of it, and here I am looking out, seeing brown mountains contrasting with very white snow. Rocks that look like dinosaur droppings, but pretty nonetheless.
I just heard one of the waitresses talking to the other:

‘Did you bring your board?’


‘When you finish do you wanna go down?’

Meaning, after work they snow-board mountain down. How cool is that?

Like one of my gurus say, this is living the life of my dreams to the degree that I can.

It did not start as fancy stuff, it is a backpacker’s trip, but can it get any better? Writing with mountain views, eating the best wine garlic prawns ever, and knowing I will even sleep tonight?
This place has a cinnamon smell and offers hot chocolate with Baileys. Guess what I will order next?
I can say with my whole heart, head and body into it: I’m happy.

No Topo do Mundo

Estou no topo do mundo. Pelo menos me disseram que esse é o restaurante de maior altitude na Austrália. Chama-se ‘O Ninho da Águia’, ‘The Eagle’s Nest’. Cheguei aqui com o teleférico ‘Kosciuszko Express’ na montanha de Thredbo. Realmente, me sinto no alto do mundo.Como minhas pernas não estão colaborando para esquiar, resolvi fazer essa outra coisa que amo fazer…

Eu vim para as montanhas para esquiar, mas o meu nível de principiante-super-avançada não está funcionando de jeito nenhum hoje, e não estou dando conta nem de parecer principiante-nível-médio. Estou cansada com os músculos gritando de cãibra e dor. Talvez seja porque não estou muito fit esse ano, ou por ter dividido um quarto com quatro pessoas, as quais demoraram muito para ir para suas camas ontem, depois de uma longa viagem de Sydney até aqui. Acabei indo dormir quase três da manhã e fui acordada três vezes por uma $@sta de telefone antes das 5 da matina. A pessoa sem noção não desligou o telefone mesmo depois de eu pedir.

O que dificulta a gente a voltar a dormir é o pensamento “em que mundo essa pessoa acha que é okay deixar esse telefone tocando desse jeito?” Nós todos tínhamos que acordar cedo para pegar café da manhã, os equipamentos de esqui alugados e o passe dos teleféricos da montanha. Eu modifiquei minha reserva para essa noite, para um quarto só meu, sem telefones e conversas. Então resolvi tirar o melhor proveito da situação, e aqui estou, vendo as montanhas marrons, salpicadas de branco muito branco, com rochas que parecem esterco de dinossauro, mas muito bonitas mesmo assim.

Acabei de ouvir uma garçonete de cabelo vermelho falar para a outra loirinha com uma tatuagem de uma rosa ocupando metade de seu ante-braço:

– Você trouxe sua prancha?

– Trouxe.

– Vamos descer juntas depois do trabalho?

Quer dizer, quando terminarem seu turno as moças vão descer a montanha show-boarding. Muito legal né.

Como um dos meus gurus costuma dizer, isso é que é viver a vida dos seus sonhos da maneira que eu posso nesse momento. A viagem não era para ser nada chique, uma viagem de mochileiros, mas não dava para ficar melhor. Escrever com vista da montanha, comendo camarão ao vinho e alho e ainda sabendo que vou poder dormir hoje à noite, é simplesmente o máximo.

O restaurante tem cheiro de canela e oferece chocolate quente com Baileys. Adivinha o que vou pedir agora? Posso dizer, de corpo e alma, que estou feliz.