West Coast.

#16 Never worse but never better

Img: flower, plant, petal, anemone, geranium, daisy, poppy, field, outdoors, nature
Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota

The phenomenon has already taken hold of this family, and although they won't admit it, the truth is that we have two Swifties in the house. And a loyal fan.

I like it more and more myself, I must confess. We found Wonderland...

Taylor didn't write it, but "Spring is the queen of flowers, like her there is no equal, spring always comes and goes, and youth never comes again..." It was a song that Grandma Rosa often sang.

I miss you, Grandma. You'd love this spring and these flowers.

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I've only found something similar in Holland, but here without so much cold or rain.

The fields look, like the cars, like they've been on steroids. They're as far as the eye can see and with a wonderful fragrance to go with it...

The wonder of this place remains. There are worse places to be a visiting scholar, in fact.

Two drops fall and Matias immediately warns.

"Eu não gosto nada de rain."

He looks like a real blond "Camón" with impeccable pronunciation, but he's stabbing at Luso-Spanish grammar with no mercy.

"Mommy, where's my sweater white? You know those cookies round I like?" There are endless comic-tragic expressions, but I hope they'll all be organized in his head one day. At the moment, he speaks and understands three languages without any difficulty, but he mixes it up.

Sisters mix less, but they also have less nerve to invent.

I didn't think my English was a problem.

Now, I get corrected a lot, especially by the youngest. When I offered water to locals the other day, he interjected, "Do you mean uárer, mommy? Say it again... good job!" It's a bit embarrassing.

Mimi turned 14 and received... the most coveted pajama pants in the whole middle school. Only those who belong to the Choir can have them. And obviously, although I question the fashion of going to school in pajamas, I must admit that it really made her happy...

That day, she was pampered by a group of friends who had already won us all over.

In the evening, there was bacalhau à Brás and brownies. But the grandparents were missing. And the uncles. And the cousins. And the "family friends." And it made her throat hurt.

On that Saturday, the three children's schedules required meticulous planning. The activities started before 9 a.m. and lasted until 9 p.m. They started with the tricycle race and its ilk. Matias won his first medal.

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We continued with the little one to soccer practice, which he still calls football with the feet.

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And we rushed home, hoping to get the athlete to do a power nap and for us to finish preparing everything for Mimi's party.

He invited whoever he wanted, practically everyone came, and it was so nice...

  • All Star Sports Birthday Invitation: advertisement, poster, ball, basketball, basketball (ball), sport, text
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More treats from a group of very cute teenagers, and after the game, the shootaround, and the snack, some friends took the cuca to the dressing rooms for another show, other friends helped dismantle the studio so we could leave in record time, and we rushed off to the show by the finalists of Elementary: Pageants of the Arts.

We sat down literally two minutes before the start and waited for local television to send us the videos, as promised.

Cuca stood out at the Tap Dance; she says she was proud of everyone's performance, and the only thing that made her sad was that she'd finished rehearsals over the last few weeks.

"I love being on stage with my friends." It was brutal.

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We arrived home surrendered, but very grateful.

The week after returning to the routine, and on a day without planning it, I received a message saying, "I've decided to stop my diet, and I'd like to share lunch with you. Are you in?"

If there's one thing you discover in Wonderland, it's the wonder of swapping "what if" for "why not."

Shabu Shabu has jumped to the top of my list of favorite restaurants worldwide.

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It's hotpot or Japanese fondue, and what I managed to explain to Elaine, who has turned out to be one of the craziest, lovely, and most interesting people I've ever met, is that there's a before and after. Before - I didn't know what it was; after - I want to take all my people there to enjoy the most spectacular explosion of hot flavors in the mouth in recent times.

I must have made such a fuss that my friend, on a diet break, wanted to show me her favorite Taiwanese dessert. Tshuah-ping, or shaved ice, is hard to describe. It is another delight in the before-and-after category. As the fuss continued, we went to the Taiwanese bakery where families usually go on Sundays.

Elaine wanted to make sure my troupe tasted the whole pastry. I became addicted to Taiwanese tastes. And I didn't have dinner that day.

On the other hand, one of these days, we found sea bream. Everyone who came into the house said, "It smells so good! It smells like home! It smells like Portugal! What a delight, a fish with bones! Mummy, I didn't even remember how much I missed you..."

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You learn this in Wonderland, too. It's beautiful for a country and a house to smell fish in the oven, see bones, and try to reproduce with fish from the Pacific what is done with fish from the Atlantic. And because the bar is set, we tasted the best seabream.

On Sundays, at the end of the day and during insomnia, the lack of everything gets even harder...

In the paradisiacal spots we meet, in the people we now also call friends, and in the crazy routines of these children who don't slow down their schedules, the charm remains.

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And in the meantime, we try to keep all the plates spinning as best we can, even if we're working our asses off on the lawn.

Focus on what we can control and faith in the alignments of the planets. Giving everything to sleep with a clear conscience.

Promises to children to tell the truth, even when it worries us. Always, except on Sunday evenings.

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Jenny sensed my throat tightening and came to bring me a refrigerated cooler with this delicious treat inside.

In some parts of the world, it's already your birthday. This is my birthday cake since I arrived in Seal Beach. I hope you like it.


I've never been physically so far away from my loved ones on this day. And I'm thinking it's either tonsillitis or a knot in my throat.

We call our corner in Seal Beach home, but I know how many steps I have in our home in Parede.

I'm so sorry not to pay tribute to Mr. Eduardo of the best "Conquilhas" (after my mother's in Costa da Caparica), but I promise to take all my new friends to see our favorite Home Restaurant when they visit us.

There are difficult days in so many ways, and youth that never returns, in the springs that come and go. But there are also so many before-and-afters and so much selfless generosity from so many people at the same time that it's impossible not to believe.

And life was never worse but never better.

Thank you, Taylor.

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