And So This is Christmas… And What Have I Done?

Last night while looking out our window and across the street at one of the bars, I watched a woman dance up barefoot to a gate of what appears to be an abandoned house and proceed to shake the bars and yell at them. This was all before she attempted to drink open beers on some of the customers’ tables, dance with others and then try to get into a car parked by the curb. I have seen this woman before, several times. I don’t know her name or anything about her other than the fact that she roams this neighborhood at night. Always barefoot and usually smoking, drinking at times and at others looking for or flat out taking drinks, she dances by while frequently talking to people I can’t see. People I think only she sees. Only after repeated cries of “Sai” (go away) from the owner of the bar and others, will she spin away, tripping, gesturing, stumbling, mumbling and singing down the street going somewhere in the distance to a place I don’t know. What troubled me most last night was that while I was looking down watching her shake the bars and yelling for the ghosts of the past to let her in, I looked to her left and there decorating an occupied home were several sets of Christmas lights blinking almost in rhythm with her clamoring.

One set of lights is delicately strewn over laundry hung out to dry on a rope in a glassless window. They blink irregularly and have been blinking for weeks now. Over time other houses have decorated themselves joining in the tiny bursts of illumination. Some move slowly like a government worker gets up from his desk to get a copy or a stamp and others flash with a frantic sort of rhythm a kin to venders selling chip cards, DVDs or peanuts at terminals. All of these lights fill my nights with little balls of color to remind me, to not let me forget that this is indeed Christmas time.

So this is Christmas. And what have I done? This is a question with many layers. I moved to Brazil this year as you all know. I had also moved to Richmond. I took my first international flight, learned a little (very little) Portuguese, went to a Flamengo game, went to Rock in Rio, met MGFI’s family and friends, saw where she grew up and her childhood home, ate wonderful food, became confused and frustrated by cultural differences, went to beaches, watched monkeys play in the trees in our backyard in Niteroi, sold all of my furniture in the US, waved goodbye for the time being to what family I have left, saw Christ from the Lagoa, walked Ipanema beach at sunset and I started a blog among other things. At the end of the year I suppose it’s always a time to reflect. I have so many things and people to be thankful for but I guess the holiday season is getting me a little down in ways. After I watched that woman last night, I was sad for several reasons. I was sad because I’m inside a home with walls,floors and a roof and forget what a blessing that is at times. I was sad for everyone lost on Christmas. I was sad because it’s hot here when it’s supposed to be snowing. I was sad because some people never make it back inside and instead dance away into a night filled with tiny irregularly blinking lights while singing to people who only they can see but who are also the only ones who never tell them to go away. So this is Christmas…

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