Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving Thanks (in Brazil)

The past few Sunday morning, I’ve taken Pete and Sam for a run through Lago Sul. Traffic is light on Sunday mornings, and we are passed by several very large cycling pelotons whizzing their way through the neighborhood on their Sunday ride which makes me miss my bike and my own cycling days. We usually go five miles, stopping on both the way out and on the way back at the gas station in QI 23 because it has train parked beside it. We stop, and Pete and Sam unbuckle themselves from the jogging stroller and get out to examine the engine which we look at on the way out. There is also a gutted passenger car (Annie and Clarabelle, they call it, from Thomas and Friends) that we stop at on the way back. I do push-ups while they play. On the way back, we stop at one of the several sets of pull-up bars scattered throughout Lago Sul, and I do pull-ups. I don’t run very fast, but it is still a hard work-out. It is now almost summer in Brazil, and the weather’s turned humid. I’m drenched from head to toe in sweat, with beads of sweat trickling down my brow and from my ear lobes.

This morning, it was just Pete and I, and I helped him through his own sets of pull-ups. There was a stack of rocks under one of the pull-up bars, and he tipped the rocks over, revealing an ants’ nest.  I am thankful that I am starting to feel like myself again. Since the beginning of April, when I returned to work after Clementine’s birth, until recently, I worked in the environment and science section of my office, including spending two and a half weeks in Rio in June as part of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. I didn’t appreciate how hard the job was and how much stress I was putting on myself, until I went back to the political section and immediately felt like a weight had been lifted. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the job I was doing. I learned something new every day. Climate change, the science behind launching shoe box-sized satellites, urban sustainability and turtle excluder devices.

Last night, Elise and I went to buy a few bottles of cachaça to stuff stockings with back in the States, before grabbing a bite out. We ordered two caipirinhas and sat beside each other, looking out the front door of the cachaçeria across the street at a hair salon and a Chinese restaurant. Twilight was falling, and I was thankful Elise has bought a new pair of green woven shorts and also that she was wearing them as a clear demonstration of her objectively amazing legs. I was thankful that we didn’t have anywhere else we needed to be at that particular moment and that we could stay as long as we wanted, within reason.  Later we would go to Coco Bambu for dinner. It is a pretty fantastic feeling to go to a packed restaurant in Brazil and have every man in the room checking out your wife. I am thankful that she writes me notes to remind me of the things I would otherwise forget. I am thankful that we will have two months off together before we move back to Washington DC and I am looking forward to going back. I love it there. I love living there. I like that it is close to Baltimore which reminds me of the time I first set off on my own, and Washington DC is familiar enough to not be scaring, but foreign enough to still (ironic, I know) feel like Elise and I are off on our own just being there.

I am thankful for Brazil. I will be sad to leave. I know I will miss it, and we remind ourselves that, now, we are all (especially Clementine) a little Brazilian. I hope we will return. I think we will. And if we do, I hope that we, the kids especially, will pick right up where we left off. I think of the pictures Elise took in June in Rio of Pete and Sam in front of Dois Irmãos on Ipanema beach and I have visions of them as long-legged, poofy-haired, razor-thin fourteen and sixteen year-olds clamoring out of our apartment in Rio, sprinting down toward the beach, a soccer ball comfortably tucked under the crook of their elbows, fluently chattering in Portuguese to the beach vendors and joggers and Brazilian girls in bikinis they pass. Though leaving Brazil is bittersweet, I am thankful for this lifestyle. I hope it continues to be this good to us. I think it will, as it is all a matter of perspective, and Elise and I are not difficult to please. I know it will not disappoint and I know that we will feel the same when we have to leave India, and then we will tell ourselves that we are all now, a little bit American, a little bit Brazilian and a little bit Indian. 

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