Borrowed Words

Could you lend me some words, please?
I’ll give you some feelings in exchange.

No, I’m afraid I can’t use my own.
Meu, minha.
Aqui. Agora.
No, it won’t do.

When I borrow your tongue,
I can’t taste in my mouth
the bitterness of what I am saying.


On which I start talking about Facebook and finish with the Meaning of Life.

I spend more time on Facebook and Instagram than I should. I know that. I know that Facebook is a great technological evil that has come to make people less productive by letting them stalk basically everyone they are acquainted with. I know it reveals (and probably increases) people’s shallowness and materialism. I know it is probably degrading our brains.

But I also know that it is a wonderful way to keep in touch with people without actually having to call them as ask “Hey! How are you? What’s new?”, because we all know that 9 out of 10 answers to those questions will be some variation of “Fine. Nothing new going on.” Few people will automatically start talking to fill you up on the things you missed in their lives while you’ve been away. And the people who do that.. Well, they are most often the people whose lives you really don’t want to hear about. That’s where Facebook becomes so useful: you can see what your friends have been up to and, if you decide to start a chat, you will have something to talk about. You can like and leave comments on people’s pictures or status updates. It’s just a friendly way of saying “I’m acknowledging our connection. I’m still here. We’re still friends. DON’T. FORGET. ME.”

The thing is, sometimes people won’t even do that. And to me it sends a clear message: “I simply don’t care about your life”.

When I came to Scotland, most of my friends stopped messaging me after a couple weeks. Some of them would still do it very rarely – I’d just like to point out that these were people that I used to talk to EVERYDAY. Only three friends would actually skype me. In the beginning, they would all like and comment on my pictures on Facebook and Instagram. But after a while, you start to notice that people get tired of you (at least, that’s how it feels).  I suppose it’s normal that people get a little distant. You run out of things to talk about when you live in different countries. I don’t mind my acquaintances ignoring me. What really hurts is the silence of my so called “best friends”.

To make everything even more bittersweet, I started seen pictures of them with this new girl. LOTS of pictures. They seem to be going out practically everyday and having lots of fun. They travelled together. They have inside jokes. WITHOUT ME.

(I know this is sounding totally seventh grade and I promise I’ll get mature again in a second. I just need you to stay with me and endure my juvenile feelings for a little longer.)

Back to my drama, “WHO IS THIS BITCH THAT STOLE ALL MY FRIENDS??????” is a thought that might have crossed my mind. I know, I know. Calling a sister a bitch is not okay. Feminist me is ashamed for the thought. But, see, as much as I tried to pretend that everything was fine, that I was totally okay with some random girl befriending all my group of friends, that the fact that they seem closer now than we are doesn’t bother me at all… I just couldn’t help it. I tried to be mature and deal with this as an adult woman, I swear. I failed.

It was only when I finally admitted to myself that yes, I was jealous, that things started to clear up a bit. But one thought led to another, in the fantastic and mysterious ways the human mind works (specially when you have the notes you should be reading for Tuesday’s exam right in front of you) and I finally realized a few things. First of all, that this new girl has not “stolen” my friends. Mostly because they were never mine in the first place.

I could talk about the way living abroad made me aware of the people that really matter and the ones that are simply part of my everyday life back home, but that’s not even what I mean here. When I say they were never mine, I’m not implying that they were not my friends, but simply that they didn’t belong to me. Just as they don’t belong to her. You can’t own people – you can only love them and hope they may love you back.

Sometimes the love people give back is greater than what you gave them. Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes it can be so much less than what you deserve that it’s best for everyone if you just go separate ways. But sometimes, even if it’s not what you expected in return, what people offer you can be worth your investment. And most of the times, it doesn’t really matter. Because the great beauty of all this is that you loved them. You, wonderful being, produced this marvelous feeling and you are spreading it with the world. And that’s a reward in itself. Feeling love is the greatest reward of all.

It doesn’t matter if my friends found a new friend. I still love them. And I’m pretty sure that, in their own way, they still love me, too.

Phenomenal Woman

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips, 
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

On beautiful days and lovely people


Scotland has taught me to appreciate sunny days. I used to take them for granted. Actually, I never thought much of them. But here, when the sky is blue and the wind is calm, it feels like a terrible waste not to take a walk outside, specially along the beach.

Last Saturday was one of these days (in fact, I can’t really complain, because we have had quite a few of them lately). My friends who live in a nearby town came to pick me up and we spent a most wonderful afternoon walking around the beach, having tea, chatting. In the evening, I cooked for them some typical Brazilian food and they all seemed to like it – well, they are so adorable that they would never let me know if they didn’t.

It is just so funny that I’ve grown so fond of these people. We can talk and laugh for hours, but we can also sit in comfortable silence and have a cup of coffee. I feel like bit by bit they have become my family in this foreign but beloved country.

I don’t know what will happen when I return home. I do hope we can stay in touch, but this long distance friendships rarely last. I know it will not be the same for sure. So one might ask what is the point in making friends while traveling? Why invest in relationships that are doomed to fade? Doesn’t it make saying good bye harder, getting attached to people?

I say we are humans. We need to bond. Maybe having friends will make leaving more difficult, but it will certainly be worth it. All the moments I spent here, all the afternoons in the old bookshop, all the cups of coffee, all the books and poems and illustrations and rides, and that walk on the beach on a sunny Saturday, have changed me a little. And if I’m unable to carry my friends back home with me, I will most certainly carry the moments and how they shaped me.

What I got from the journey

First, I got Edgar. Only temporarily, of course. Charlie would not like to be parted from her old backpack for long, but she was kind enough to let me borrow it for my travels during the spring break.

Then I went to Haworth, where I got lost in the Yorkshire moors trying to find the Brontë Falls and Top Withins amidst the howling winds, and the title of Emily Brontë’s only novel suddenly made perfect sense.

With mud on my boots and heather in my pocket, I went on to York, where I got outraged with the price to enter the Minster, but payed anyway (and it was worth it). I also probably got a lot fatter due to all the lovely coffee shops.

With a heavy heart I said good bye to York, only to get amazed, mesmerized, flabbergasted (really, the English language does not offer enough words) with Peterborough Cathedral, where I got to see one of my favorite authors, got my books signed, and got to meet two lovely ladies who were incredibly nice to me during my time in that town. I hope I ever get the chance to repay their kindness.

Next stop was Cambridge, where I got so much beauty captured with my eyes and registered in my mind that my camera could not possibly do it justice.

The last stop was Leeds, where the rain reminded me that I was still in Britain and made me take refuge in the Art Gallery, where I got acquainted with the work of John Atkinson Grimshaw. Also, I finally tried Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant and definitely will return.

Now I’m back home, getting some rest, while Edgar and I plan our next journey.