#8 Amazing and Distressing
When you move, wherever you go, it's always hard.
Even if it's for the better, even if it's temporary, even if it's far away or close to home, to our loved ones, to everything. Change is hard. It always means leaving your comfortable surroundings and adapting to everything new. And I'm beginning to believe that the state of mind of those who move from one place to another is anything but stable.
Up and down. Sometimes Awesome, sometimes Distressing. Sometimes Incredible, sometimes Horrible.
There is no middle ground, at least not yet.
Perhaps when change is taken up by adapting to anything and everything, it will give way to a more serene state of mind. But I find it hard to understand how serenity is possible in the absence of everything we need. Maybe there isn't much serenity in the moods of migrants, expats, or whatever they call the exchanges of people for whatever reason.
On these days with less news, we get all these ambiguities several times. By the day, I have to say.
As far as the upstairs is concerned, awesome and incredible have been the most beautiful experiences lived in a team of 5 plus a dog, crazy and sweet in equal proportions.
The off-the-beaten-track programs, the incredible and interesting people we've already met, the events we've been lucky enough to be included in, our children's daily achievements, the professional successes we're experiencing, the management of emotions when visiting places that move us, the experimentation with this life and culture that are so different from our own, the team-building style adventures we're experiencing as a family.
The certainty that we've made the right decision, that life should be lived to the full with the corresponding intuition, even if it makes you shudder, and that this whole wheel of life is really worth it. Impossible to experience, to learn from books, to live as a tourist. Only as a local, immersed in the community, available with the time and curiosity to learn about it all.
And it really is wonderful. Hard to describe.
In the lows, in the distressing, in the horrible, are the nostalgia, dealing with situations that happen unexpectedly and that don't make our logistics any easier, and as always a catadupa of situations at the same time, counting only on the team of five on the pitch to turn things around, and above all in our absence.
We already anticipated that ours would be far away and that it would cost us.
But in extreme and unnatural situations, not being around to support our loved ones is horrible. And despite all the facilitating means of communication, the hugs and cuddles that don't happen in extreme moments are hard to swallow.
Rodrigo loves his cousins. And his uncles. And the whole family.
Living in Lisbon comes at the price of sometimes not arriving in time for farewells and unique celebrations, but it's still a comfortable distance to manage, even if we sometimes take antihistamines to cross peninsulas with the whole team in record time, and only with essential stops.
This time, with the enormous distance, it wasn't possible to get close to share and support the family's anguish at the farewell of the champion boy with the big eyes and open smile. It was really awful. And difficult to describe.
From a distance, I hope you feel our support in this helpless situation. We were all privileged to be able to witness so much love up close. And the smile of this dear little boy. And we're trying to hold on to that privilege from here.
In the routine of life happening, one of these Thursdays we went to paint pumpkins with the children in a park, and we began to wonder why Maria was taking so long to get home from school.
We went to meet her and when we saw her in the distance, she was crying and her face was full of blood. We couldn't tell straight away if she'd been hit, if she'd bumped into something, if she'd had all her teeth, her nose, you name it... blood everywhere and she was in immense distress.
Matias had used boxers in his backpack and that's what we used to try and stop the blood. We were really distressed!
We then realized that he had landed on his nose on the corner of a kerb after flying off his scooter with the weight of his rucksack adding to the inertia of the fall.
I left a fortune and a half at the pharmacy, brought everything from antibiotic ointment to hydrogel sheets specifically for burns and everything else that seemed appropriate that was recommended to me, and it seems to be going well.
The following Thursday, on my way home from school with the three of us on two bikes, at a crosswalk with the green light for us, we "only" had to cross one of the 14 lanes, and I don't know how, I saw her fly again, and shatter along the road completely wrapped up in her bike.
As I struggled to get to her, with the two youngest riding in my vehicle, it took me a few seconds longer, and that was enough for a cyclist to arrive earlier to try and free Maria from her bike.
Entre o susto e a dor que tinha, gritou tanto que o bom do ciclista que não percebia português, nem o que dizíamos uns aos outros comunicou-nos que ia chamar o 911.
I told her that it wasn't necessary, to leave us alone and that we'd see what to do at home.
Despite the bruises, I realized that nothing was broken, and I only had to get home with two frightened little ones, a thigh and two bicycles.
Rodrigo in downtown LA at rush hour. Of course, I have 27 more gray hairs and 3 more wrinkles.
Just in case, this coming Thursday we're going to follow Aunt Lucía's advice, and there are no more vehicles for Mimi, who is very good at walking.
To clear our heads, we signed up to organize the "Carnival" at the Cuca school.
It means hard partying, and it's not in February, it's whenever you want.
As soon as we arrived, we concluded that the exact translation should be "a kind of folk fair that abused steroids".
Everything was great, from the inflatables to the raffle competitions, the prize stall and the traditional games. Absolutely incredible.
As a volunteer, Maria was in the food area and made sure that the brothers were always well fed, which was crazy for them, the little ones asking big sis for things, and big sis managing to provide lunch and treats for the brothers.
At the end of the Carnival, for his good work throughout the day, he received more tikets to spend wherever he wanted, and he was still able to enjoy the games.
This event is organized by the parents' association in order to fundraise for the school, and all the workers are volunteers (parents, children and teachers), in shifts.
It was brilliantly organized, and at the end, after the children had collected as many tikets as possible, they exchanged them for prizes, also offered by volunteers and partner institutions.
We got home grumpy even though we hadn't been on the inflatables, and Matias fell asleep without dinner.
In the meantime, the preparations for Halloween began, and I didn't like pulling out pumpkin seeds at all, but the result was cramps in my right hand, 3 calluses and some happy bros!
As it supposedly feels like summer, it's fall, so we decided to get advice from the locals and visit a nearby farm (1h40 drive) to have a picnic and pick apples.
It was fall in this place, so we went prepared and well warmed up, and realized that in California we really do have almost everything. In terms of seasons, landscapes and experiences.
The experience was so good that we wanted to do it again.
We picked two bags of apples, rode on a tractor and saw pumpkins growing and waiting to be picked.
We took "patanisca pretending it was cod" for the picnic, the apples are delicious, but at the price of a sirloin steak, and each one we ate we made sure to taste it properly.
We've already recommended Los Rios Rancho to everyone we know. It was top notch.
In the meantime, the children's social agenda is getting complicated to manage, and it's with all the excitement that we're scrambling to get to everything they're invited to.
Interacting with friends they've already made is one of the most beautiful things to watch, and the boys have managed to fit in very well so far!
Long may it continue...
Rodrigo has since grown up in San Francisco and loved the experience.
At that point, I was overwhelmed with anxiety at the end of the day, at any monkey business that might happen without one of us around.
I was driving in silence back from the airport, in the dark at 4 a.m., in the middle of other vehicles that had also taken steroids, and in a thousand lanes each way, with Matias sleeping in the back seat, and the girls sleeping at home in Mel's care... and there was nothing but distress in my eyes.
I got home and put Jenny's number into Maria's phone.
I shared my woes with Jenny, because saying woes out loud doesn't make them happen, or I prefer to believe this magical thinking.
I think I scared Jenny, who immediately asked me for Rodrigo and Maria's numbers for her cell phone.
And so I did! Shared emergency contact.
I'm still in sherpa mode, but I'd really rather not feel like the only responsible adult climbing this Everest.
I took a deep breath when I picked Rodrigo up from the airport, and slept more peacefully that night.
California has almost everything.
A kiss from us.