May 29, 2013

If life was the movie playing in my head.

Let's stay in tonight, push the furniture out of our way, practice some judo moves and laugh the night away. 

Telling Tales - The boy with a patchwork heart.

In a promised land filled with palm trees and sunsets of the most orange colors, lived the boy with a patchwork heart. He was a seemingly happy boy but had this big black heart covered with loneliness and filled with sorrow.

Why he got this heart of his is for some other time and some other doesn't belong here and now.

The boy with a patchwork heart realized one day that whenever he helped someone, in this really selfless and kind way, a colorful patch would be sewn on a piece of the big black heart of his... whenever he found a way to care for people, to truly take interest in their stories, whenever he truly felt for others and eased their minds and souls, he could add another colorful patch of joy to the broken heart he possessed.

But life has this strange way of wanting to show how delicate and fragile kindness can be and, the same way, patchwork is beautiful but it is just sewn together with lines that can easily break... the darkness was merely concealed by this frail mantle of the brightest colors! 
The boy with the patchwork heart had to work constantly, incessantly, every day of his life, to keep the shining patches well attached to each other. He worked hard to prove kindness as a lasting quality so he could keep the darkness well hidden away. 
He knew, deep down in his gloomy heart, it would be too hard to find someone that would follow him into the dark. He knew what darkness can do… it scares people, it scares love, it scares life away. Kindness, on the other hand, as delicate as it is, is able to give life to a tired spirit and ease the most melancholic thoughts.

And the boy with the patchwork heart kept sewing his patches forever, everyday, while watching the red sun go down behind the palm trees.

"No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I will follow you into the dark."
                                                   Ben Gibbard

May 22, 2013


What life-changing means.
How much it mattered.
How much it troubles.
How much it cost me.
How much he lost me.
And his words.
And his smile.

If life was the movie playing in my head.

Let's stay in tonight, drink an ice cold margarita in the balcony, nibble on some baklava and enjoy the sunset while listening to the "Garden State" soundtrack.


I can still remember times when I felt I was home, protected, supported by a safety net of a place that saw me grow up, friends that knew all the good and bad in me, family that was a walk and a coffee-break away. It was all a myriad of habits that made my life a line with few curves or bumps. Home was the city that raised me in melancholy, the family and friends that understood me, the coffee shops and the little stores that knew what was my favorite cake and my clothing size. Home was more than my house, built with my partner, was a series of routines that made me comfortable, warm...and a bit numb. The thought of leaving this place, this state of body and mind, made me extremely anxious... maybe because I knew from the start that once lost there was no way back. Home was a feeling I had built over comforts and experiences that could easily change once some premises were lost.

Abruptly, in a short few months, when uncertainty took my life in a whirlwind of changing emotions, persons and places, home was gone. I had a place to sleep, I even had the same apartment back in my hometown, but home was gone. And I knew "that" home was gone forever. Going back to ignorance, going back to a non-wanderer state is impossible to achieve. You can't un-see what you already saw, un-know what you already learned, un-feel what took over you heart. The place that gave me the comfort I so relentlessly wanted to keep was gone. I felt a discomfort that haunted my thoughts and that became the subject of every drunken conversation prolonged into infinity with new people that, like me, felt homeless! All of sudden we were a community of gypsies.. wanderers like I dreamed of being in my teenage years... nomads with no home, no place to rest and the whole world to see and absorb. It was the most uncomfortable feeling I had ever felt but it was all I could be and all I became. The discomfort of this uncertainty was also the beauty of it... in most instances is this unquietness of the soul that makes us discover who we really are, what we really want, what can we really do. 

I embraced the wandering soul and the gypsy life with pride and an eager spirit. I can see all that it gave me... all the good and all the bad. Awareness, self-discovery, time  and personal bonds that are for life contrasted by a disconcerting cynicism about life, love and friendship, the understanding of the fickleness of feelings and a constant battle with my own self for a peace that was lost. Ignorance is a bliss but, ironically, you can only appreciate it the moment you no longer have it in you. Only then, and then is too late and that road is forever closed in your spirit. Friends that always were become strangers, routines and spaces lose their magic, you become an alien of yourself and discover more than you asked for. It is incredibly rich and exceptionally unsettling.  

And after a while comes the troubling doubt... Will I ever find home again... find my peace, my balance built of more than a place and ephemeral feelings of comfort?  I do miss the idea of home... the feeling of safety I once had, the person I was. That same feeling and that person can't ever be again. The place will always be different, even if it is the same apartment in the same city, the relationships will never come back unaffected, even if they are built with the same people I always knew, and the habits will never be lived as they once were, even if I still drink my tea at 6pm. Home will be a new idea, a new stability whenever I am able to find it within myself. Or I will someday find my peace in this wandering ways I learned to love and hate... Until then home will be a fleeting feeling in this momentary place and the people that populate my world in these brief flashes of contentment. 

"You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. (...) You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place."
Andrew Largeman in "Garden State

May 20, 2013

Chasing the sun. (Preface)

[Vegas. A girl and a boy try anxiously to locate each other in the middle of the crowded Strip. And as their eyes settle on the vision they were so eager to encounter, time seems to slow down, the air becomes still and everything around them seems to draw in… something bigger than life is about to become part of them. Forever.]

This is a story about love... but it is not a love story. 

It is a story made of sad cliches just like this first sentence. It is a story to tell how, as he turned his back and drove down the palm tree road,  he took with him her light, her life, her love. 

She would never forget him... She would always love him... She would always want to not love him. 
The self-assured, innocent joy she was once known for would never return unchanged to her soul. She laughed, she smilled, she was still kind, but her eyes couldn't keep the sadness away from them. The tears were now too easy. The sudden loss of the love he once promised her was there at all times... in her brown iris behind the sunglasses. The smell of dill and a sunset on the hill were painful pleasures, a self-inflicted torture that turned her look into a muddy lake of sorrows. 

She had loved before. She had hurt before. This time though, she knew she had been robbed of more than a few months of joy. Her love was wasted till the last drop. Till the last happy cry. Till the last hint of life was sucked out of her. For a moment then she thought the pain would consume her, throwing her into this abyss of unknown agonies. Ending it all, finally crashing against the ground, was a liberating thought... A final and sweet release from a despair that could not be told, that she could not bear to think she would ever feel again. Her life, her eyes, her heart, as she knew them, were forever lost. 
Friends would assure her the pain was not forever. They were right. The maniac driving despair didn’t stay forever. It made her grow. Made her learn more than she wanted to know about herself and others. Made her appreciate that love can hurt like nothing else hurts and makes one feel everything in the eeriest, purest, cruelest way… as if straight from the origins of it all! Those panicked times made her learn but, thankfully, didn't stay forever. Sadly though, she was sure, like one can only be sure of things one can't explain, that with the end of the "us", the "we" she dreamed together with his dreams, she would forever be missing a big piece of herself. That spark, that could once be seen, was taken from her body in deep sighs of longing, of sorrow, of loss. The happy times were momentary scenes of madness now, while she was high and lost in wine. Life would go on... The world would keep madly spinning on... Someday she would be loved again and smile about it all... But the love, the pain of that lost love, would stay somehow. Maybe quiet, maybe silent, maybe muted, but always there. Hurting like a chronic wound that we learn to live with but that we never forget it's there.  

Them, as lovers,  had come down. He could not stay in such great heights where everything looked perfect from far up!  The freckles in their eyes no longer aligned. They were no puzzle pieces from the clay no more.  And the elipsis, to their promised union, was forever lost! 

The stories are known about the ones that would sell their souls to the devil to reach for power... She, instead, traded her soul for love! She traded all her life adventures, all her joy, friends, family, desires and hopes for that greater than life love... That ecstasy of gold! Her biggest problem, she realized, was that her body lived in this world, full of fears and anguish, so cowardly suspicious and cynical about anyone who surrenders to love. Her soul, though, lived in a movie, a pink bubble where every realization of love was an epiphany for life, where a flawed character was not a mistake and where quirky, sweet and intense details made one go slow-motion as if to make sure we are ready to take a picture and take a mental note of a life-changing glance.

The memories, of uncounted sunsets and shared glasses of wine on long evenings of restless communion that turned nights into days and seconds into lifelong pleasures, would follow her wherever she went... The comparisons would strain relationships to come. The fear would kill them all. 

You only live once because you can only love once. This LOVE. This frantic, mad, sinful and ingenuous love! It was all gone. One love! One life! In a whirlwind of crazy despairs and un-named fears it was all gone. Simple pleasures of intricate feelings that wouldn't please no more. Kind hopes of unholy wishes that would turn sour... And cinic... And sad. The red colors of the California sunsets would still take her breath away but her soul was no longer filled by them. A cliche hole was there at all times... Tormenting her soul and her thoughts, her hopes and her words. His final, brutal words still echoed in her head. She could still taste her despair and her maniac reactions. It came to her like a nightmare... Dark dreams to  remind her that great happiness might have its downfall. All great love has potential for destruction. All highs can become deep lows. Love became her dark paradise... home, her lost refuge. 

This is a story about love... But it is not a love story.

( be continued...)

"And I have to speculate
That God himself did make 
Us into corresponding shapes
Like puzzle pieces from the clay.

And true it may seem like a stretch
But it's thoughts like this that catch
My troubled head when you're away
When I am missing you to death."

       Ben Gibbard and Jim Tamborello

May 13, 2013

The love that remains.

When time shows you, cruelly, that it is not an unchanged variable; when distance increases the space between; when death claims its own, our love is suddenly all alone. What do we do with the love that remains, the one-sided passion that haunts every good memory there is of times that will no longer be?  How do you forget?

How do you forget someone you love? How do you forget someone you don’t want to forget, when reminiscing is more painful than the abrupt end you had to face? What do you do with what brought you to this loss? How to not be paralysed when your love was all locked safe with the one that is no longer there? How do you forget?

Outside your window everything happens fast. People rush to their jobs, to their appointments... through their life. The world spins madly on and no one wants to waste a moment to just feel. Overcoming the pain of the love that is not longer there takes time though; a time that needs to be honored. The time it takes to go through the worst in us to get to the best we all have inside. The time it takes to hurt so we can actually stop being sad. The time it takes for our heart to live it all before it can kill it all. The time it takes to remember before we can start to forget.

There is no other way to forget but slowly. Patiently. Painfully. It takes time to forget. Memories prevail even when they are meant to fade. Bear it. Give time its value. Stand the pain, the headache and the heartache. Be sad. Be alone. Mourn. There can be pills and friends and books and drinks, advices and words and distractions and different beds to wake up on with different faces telling us all the same stories… Nothing will achieve more than a drunk numbness of regret. Memories need respect to die away.

The love that remains, the abyssal hole left by the one who left, can only be mended after duly grieved and duly revered. It’s a pain that we must accept. A shattering ache that possesses our body and spirit and that has no easy solution… no sense… no justice. It’s love and death, birth and eternity… Accept it with the faith you accept all that lacks logic. Search for the answers within yourself. Let your heart run free and it will eventually settle. Hopefully. Quietly. On its own.

"I was salted by your hunger,
Now you've gone and lost your appetite
And a
little bird is every bit as handy in a fight.
I am lonely as a memory
Despite the gathering round the fire.
Aren't you every bird on every wire?

When the time comes,
And rights have been read,
I think of you often
But for once I meant what I said."

                                     Lisa Hannigan.

May 11, 2013

If life was the movie playing in my head.

Let's stay in tonight, play cranium, try some Shakira moves and drink too many beers. Dawn will come while we have drunk, philosophical conversations in the balcony.

May 10, 2013

Pueblo de la Reina de los Ángeles. *

Before ever stepping foot in LA I had adopted three cities as my own, as my home…

My hometown Porto will always be the gloomy, melancholic cascade of granite that assures me of my heritage, that embodies the metaphoric bridges I will often have to cross over turbulent, but golden waters.  

Amsterdam was my teenage love… not for the obvious touristy cloud of weed smoke, but for its human-scale size that is combined with all the richness of a large-scale melting pot. It is understandable, relatable, calm in its chaos of cultures and beliefs.

NY was the love I always waited for. This city was mine before I even met her... and meeting her was overwhelmingly familiar. It is merely a place and yet it is just about...everything. It is epic. It is grandiose. It is recognizable and sensible. It is hectic and concentrated. It is creative and free. It is proud and a bit snob. It is the whole world in this one, very unique place.

Los Angeles, in its spread geography and its overpowering inconsistency, was nothing I could compare to any big city I knew. LA is not easy to visit, to glance over, to love at first sight… It is the dangerous, edgy guy you were never meant to love. It takes time to understand all its layers and its strange, yet laid-back ways. And the more I gave it a chance, the more I tried to relate, the more I saw all the wonders of its imperfections. How splendorous  of a disaster!

LA is the mirror of the most amazing and inspiring decay of the norms that rule our society. And yet it is human. There is humanity in this place, a strength in the human interactions that are unprecedented.

Los Angeles is extreme… it is extreme in its beauty, in its dreams and in its habits. Los Angeles is contradictory. It’s the glitz and glam, the Barbie dolls, the hollowness and all the fake you can buy and build with a scalpel and a palm tree in the backyard. In its darkest side this place is also the heroin and the meth, the hookers, the smog and the harrowing class-divide between the Hills and Compton. Los Angeles can be squeaky clean and filthy, in all the vastness of these assertions, all at the same time. LA is all these contradictions… as we all are.  People are made of contrasting peculiarities and principles and so is this city. It is haunting. 

This is the city where dreams seem possible, tangible, real and yet this is the city where too many dreams come to die.  It is a very grounding place when mirroring our own disgrace, our own mortality and all our flaws, while always sustaining itself on hopes and reveries of fantasy visions. LA is, as a city, what we are as humans. We fight through life, trying to bring the best in us to be taken seriously; we cradle ourselves in dreams through the lowest lows in the hopes of reaching the life we will be proud to show; always struggling to hide the dark side of our moon, to mask it in our own glitz and some bright neon lights.

In LA I found myself. I revisited myself countless times in this stunning disgrace!

Los Angeles I'm Yours.

(*) Original name given by the Spanish settlers to the city of Los Angeles, CA.

May 09, 2013

My yellow brick road.

I love writing.
I love words.
I love stories.
I love people.
I love learning.

For a long time I kept a blog I didn't tell anyone about. It was my escape from insanity in turbulent times... I posted my long sighs transformed into short sentences and collected songs while I followed my very own yellow brick way home!

Now, it makes sense to have something I will share. For several reasons. Because writing became my very personal way to definitely follow that yellow brick road...  doing it just for myself is lonely and too self-centered. Because sharing allows me to learn a bit more and expand my vision. And, practically speaking, because I am trying now to write in English and, since I am not a native speaker, forcing myself to find the right words, more complex expressions and having someone "reviewing" what I create (or just having the pressure of knowing it will be public) can be a good way to improve.

This will be my place still, to unload whatever thought, story or consideration that is going through my mind in that very moment in time. It is not a diary though, it is not all about me (mom, dad, take note!).
I usually collect stories in a little book I have with me at all times and, whenever I have the time, I develop those stories, or I just leave them as little notes. That little book will now be this place... all inspired by these phrases I get on passing, inspired by my life, the life of friends, of people I randomly meet.

Life is made of so many stories we often ignore... some sour, some sweet, some of great strength and others of great sorrow (I am portuguese... fate, sorrow and nostalgia are well embedded in my fado-filled genes). Innocence is gone and life becomes complex once you start digging deeper on who are these people that surround you in your life or just in this very unique instant. It is fascinating... and so much scarier... and so much more exciting! It is very grounding too and humbling to realize we are all quite similar despite our immense differences... we are all searching for the same peaceful spot under the sun, for love and understanding. When I truly realized this I was not able to judge as lightly as I used to do. And that is for sure my very own journey down this yellow brick road...

Stories, little stories, epic tales, people's stories, ordinary stories of extraordinary people, secret stories of average people... it is my history, my philosophy straight from my everyday encounters with life.