“So have you finally found your home?” the dark man asked me staring fixedly at a point somewhere above my left shoulder.
What was it again that had driven me to seek his strange services? Oh yes – my then bizarre stint working as a headhunter – which only the Gods and my karma had had the power to facilitate, probably to help me purge myself once and for all of my overflowing competitive streak. Spending the best part of my days studying and computing other peoples’ life choices and successes was for a type A like me just a little too disconcerting and drove the ‘where, WHERE did I go wrong?” dagger a bit deeper each day.
“Just ask him any question you have in your mind,” my recently made friend told me.
We’d had our respective late thirties women trying-to-curb-their-appetites leafy lunches at the trendy Otavio Café close to my work. Even though we’d only just met at a recent networking event for career driven women, we’d felt an instant affinity about the ‘other stuff’ and agreed to meet a couple of days later. After we’d talked about our respective unsatisfactory careers and bizarre life ideas, she’d then said kind of matter of fact that she was off to meet her spiritual guide –
“Are you kidding?! How do you get one of those?” I’d asked not embarrassed to show my anxiety and to beg her to pass me her answers-to-life secret immediately.
“You come from a strong matriarchal lineage,” the dark man added, still staring at the space over my shoulder.
My friend had explained that he could see a person’s guardians and that’s where he got a lot of his information about a person’s life, in addition to the numbers that he deducted from the letters in a person’s name and that were the basis of his science. I sat there feeling terribly self-conscious and worrying about how I should word my silly non-transcendental questions, like am I ever going to get a better job, and am I going to have another baby, so they wouldn’t sound too shallow.
“So have you finally found your home?” he asked again, this time moving his eyes over to my face.
I returned his gaze uncomfortably, trying to hide my naked thoughts, and then realized that he was the first black man I’d seen during my five years living in São Paulo that was sitting in a position of power. The only other black person I knew was the woman who cleaned our apartment.
“Yeah,” I said a bit too eagerly and then added, “I guess,” just to taper off sounding too over-confident.
Had I? I guess you could say so, if you counted finally staying in the same physical space for more than a couple of years, managing not to destroy a good relationship and in the process managing to produce a healthy and energetic boy.
But if it had happened, it certainly had not been the result of any careful planning on my part. I’d arrived in São Paulo with two old backpacks and grown an entire household over my five-year stay. Probably by the time I arrived my anxious global racer was too worn out from my random and spasmodic wanderings and for once let someone else’s rhythm take over me. Because I hadn’t even gone for my usual cram-everything-as-fast-as-you-can mode and instead avoided any maps or travel guides that could tempt me into exploring anything further than Higienopolis, the quaint neighborhood where my then boyfriend (now husband) had rented our apartment.
I let myself grow comfortable and bored in that small and friendly corner and only very slowly and organically let myself get acquainted with the rest of this buzzing concrete kingdom that we call São Paulo. And in between my days grew into weeks that grew into months that grew into years. My unconscious wisdom must have kicked in and stopped me from thinking ‘this is it,’ for the rest of my life, or I would have probably escaped on the first plane that I could get on.
But a home? I couldn’t recall ever racing for a home – I had raced for a job, for a man, for a body, for a dress, for a trip – but a home? That was a first. I guess because you just don’t race for a home. Instead you’re supposed to sit and hang some curtains and cook some home made food. No, a home had never actually appeared in my ambitious and over crammed to do lists. Home? The word brought the image of the drawing I’d made during my first therapist visit after my first heartbreak when I was asked to draw my home. I sketched something quick and only when she asked, ‘who are these?’ did I realize that I had drawn a friend’s dinner table - the one that I loved to infiltrate into because they had real sit down dinners where people passed plates around with mama made food, and even though her parents barely uttered a word, their religious dinner ritual made me feel like a normal and civilized person.
A home was certainly not what I had in mind every time I found something new to chase after and it was certainly not what I was providing my son with my improvised microwave popcorn and movie-playing-on-my-laptop dinners.
“You’ll probably be a 5 like me – we are the kind of restless person that needs to be free,” my recently made life buddy had said before taking off.
Her guide said a couple of other profound things like letting things occur at their own time and affirmed that yes I would be having another baby and changing jobs. I didn’t dare to ask about past lives and other more aerial stuff for fear of sounding like I was making fun of him and was relieved when my session was finally over.
Three years have passed since and I did have another baby and change jobs as he predicted. And now when someone asks ‘how long have you been here?’ I can answer proudly a solid, ‘eight years’ in my still foreigner sounding Portuguese. And even though I still haven’t hung the curtains in my room and still can’t get around to making a decent home cooked meal, I kind of like the mangrove-like roots that have finally grown out of me, half of which still hang free in the air dreaming of places and persons I would love to see, and the other half of which grow deeper each day as I realize that maybe yes I have finally come to a halt, a full stop that I can begin to call home.