Thursday, March 17, 2011

Brighton my day

London is slowly awakening from its winter slumber. The cherry blossoms and daffodils have all appeared, though the air remains effing cold freezing far chillier than I’d like, prompting fantasies of the tropical bliss necessary to balance my inner thermostat. Though I refuse to part with my winter coat (and hat and mitties), we are determined to enjoy spring. And what better way to enjoy it, and recall my time in the tropics, than a visit to my dear Brazilian friend who now lives in Brighton?

I first met Renato through my cousin who lived in Rio, about a month after my arrival in the cidade maravilhosa. My cousin ran a travel agency specialising in ESL courses abroad, and Renato was to go to Calgary in January to study for six months. We immediately hit it off, him being THE party guy, and me in desperate need of some serious partying. When it became clear that my cousin’s gorgeous mountain oasis did not exactly offer easy access to those with no car, Renato’s generous family offered to let me stay with them. He’d be leaving just after I started my Portuguese course, and I could have his room. It seemed like the perfect solution.

We decided to test it out for a week before he left to see if I got on with his family. It was much easier to come and go as I pleased… with one tiny problem. I had no key.

“I’ll give you my key when I leave,” he said, “but for now you will be fine.”

“But what if there’s no one home? How will I get in?”

“Ah, relax. There’s always someone home!”

There was nobody home the next day when I arrived from my course. I tried to call his sister – no answer. I tried Renato’s mobile – straight to voicemail. I knew he’d been out partying the night before, and often slept off the festivities at one of his friends’ houses. I had no idea when he would be back. I could do nothing but wait in the 42C heat. Wait, and compose a little poem.

It’s afternoon, the sun is high, and still he is not here.

Perhaps he stopped along the way to drink another beer.

Just how much did he drink last night? And how far did he roam?

Because it’s two pm right now and he has not come home.

So now I sit here wondering, what was his drink of choice?

And did he smoke enough last night to make him lose his voice?

Wine, beer, cacha├ža, vodka, gin, he ordered more and more.

And now he’s sleeping, snoring, still passed out on someone’s floor.

He loves to drink, he loves to dance, he has a wicked tan.

But when he goes to Calgary he’ll need to have a plan.

In minus thirty two degrees he won’t get very far

If he decides to stumble home from drinking at the bar.

Renato, my dear friend, I want to warn you of a place

Where setting foot outside can freeze your feet, your hands, your face.

And you won’t feel a thing, as soon your heart rate starts to slow.

The next thing that we’ll hear is you’ve been found dead in the snow.

So go ahead and drink, my friend, knock back those beers and giv’er!

To freeze to death is worse than what you’re doing to your liver.

When I wrote that poem, I never would have imagined we would both one day be living in the UK. Renato thankfully didn't freeze to death, and his course in Calgary was a success. As for me, I ended up living almost six months with his family (who I now think of as my Brazilian family). I think it's fair to say we've both grown up considerably since. I'm married and starting a new career, and he and his girlfriend are excited for arrival of their first baby. This last fact makes me chuckle. His days of partying are well and truly over. Somehow I doubt he's that upset, but when he changes that first dirty diaper, I'll know the cosmos are finally dishing up some sweet revenge for leaving me out in the blistering Brazilian sun all afternoon.

"Ah relax, Nato... their poo isn't as gross as they get older!" Heh heh heh...

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