Sunday, January 31, 2010

To Blog Or Not To Blog

I hate blogging.
The pressure is really too great. This here has to be interesting, funny, captivating, there should be some pics for those who do not want to read a longer stretch of text, and it should make an IMPRESSION because the odd literary agent or publisher or well-connected author might just happen along and take a fancy to my writing.
So the subject had better be something... momentous, yes? A story that will make you stop and read.

Well, here's the sad part: There is nothing momentous.
I'm a really, really boring person, and I do what every one else does, too: get up in the morning, go to work, come back home, make lunch for the family, do some household chores, watch some TV, go to bed.
In between, I write - as you also know - and tweet - hell yeah. As you certainly know.
And that's it.
So really, what should I blog about?

I guess I could always tell you a story....

I was here as a child. You all know where this is, right? Rio de Janeiro? Brazil?

My parents were pen pals.
One day, at school, my mother's English teacher suggested that the class might like to have contact with "foreign" kids from all over the world, and my mom ended up with this young guy in Saudi Arabia. They exchanged letters for years, but never met in person until my father proposed to her, in writing.
By then, my mother was twenty-four and working as a secretary for some kind of Ministry, and she wanted out very badly. So when that one letter came, asking her to come over to Cairo and get married off the spot, she took that chance and left her home. Until then, she had been a good kid, living with her parents and younger brothers, but right then and there she decided that her life needed a really dramatic change, and she took off.
She got on a plane, went to Cairo, and married that Arabian man right off the spot.

And this is their wedding pic.
They moved back to Saudi Arabia after that and lived there for a while, until I was born and year old, before they decided to relocate to Germany because I was sickly and they wanted better doctors.
My mother used to tell me wonderful stories about her life in Jeddah in the 50s, about meeting other European women who had married Arabs, about their social life, about the heaps of trash right behind their apartment house and their camel rides on the beach. How my father would take her out on trips into the desert in their old Jeep, and how she used to hang up wet bed sheets in the windows to cool down the rooms a little. No air conditioning back then.
Germany, though, proved not to be the right place for them, either.
Back then, my father was the only "foreigner" in the little town where my grandparents lived, long before the first Italian and Turkish came to Germany for work. He was not welcome.
So, after a rather brief period, my parents decided to emigrate to Brazil.
Please don't ask my why, probably it was just far away enough from everything else, and my father took a fancy to it, I just don't know.

But I do remember he left us and went ahead to find a home and a job, and a year later, when I was five, we went to join him, my Mom and I.
We went by ship, and we left from Hamburg.

We left from here. It looks just the same today as it did then, and I can tell, because we live in Hamburg now.
At that time, in the early 60s, there were still a lot of ships transporting passengers across the oceans, and it was a great adventure. There's not a lot I recall from that trip, but this much I do remember: there was a group of nuns aboard who were going to do missionary work in the jungle; I lost one of my brand new shoes on the second day of the trip, it went over-board; the kids had their meals before the grown ups, and we got filet mignon every single day; when we crossed the Equator, my mother hid under the bunk and I got a little plastic doll from the Captain which I called "Pia"; the other woman in our cabin had a Holy Mary statuette with her that glowed in the dark and creeped me out.
And I remember arriving in Rio, where my father was waiting to pick us up.
This, I really remember very well.
The ship made its way towards the harbor among all those hilly islands, and the air was so soft and warm, and it was in the early evening. The shore could be seen, and the many lights from the Copacabana, and the Jesus statue on its mountain.
My father took us down to the beach that night for dinner, right down to the famous stretch where all the tourists and beautiful people hang out, where I played in the sand.

We did not live in Rio, but in Sao Paolo. The next day, we had to board a bus and go all the way inland to that city, where a small house in a small street was waiting for us, and here we spent the next three years of our lives.
Until I got sick again, and my parents returned to Germany once more.

Now that I'm writing about it, it occurs to me that I've really never taken the time to reflect on this time in my life at all. There was only always the memory of being sick and in and out of hospitals and doctors's offices, but the longer I think about it, the more I recall very good times, too, like that day when we went to the snake farm outside Sao Paolo, or the one time when me friend Celia found that huge spider in the mail box, or the maid's room at the back of the house that I was never allowed to enter because, my Mom said, there were fleas inside.
Also, the market just around the corner and its heavenly smell, and how I came to love olives.
Mangoes!!!! Those Brazilians really know about mangoes! And the coconuts on the beach in Santos.

Ok, I do like blogging. I've changed my mind.