“From São Paulo to New Mexico: a trip to my soul,” by guest writer Nina Gar – Who but You? living alone series

I was born in São Paulo, Brazil.  This picture represents a very small part of São Paulo.  I took this picture before I came to the United States.  Photo credit:  the author
I was born in São Paulo, Brazil.  This picture represents a very small part of São Paulo.  I took this picture before I came to the United States.  Photo credit:  the author

Why and how I live alone
My fear before I came to the U.S. was of sharing a place with someone I never saw before. Somebody told me that I should have roommates in order to be easily adapted to the new culture.  I never considered it an option, but as exactly the opposite.  I’ve been trying to understand myself over my whole life (almost three decades).  Although I have the feeling that I will die trying to know who I am, certain things are clear enough.

I’ve been living alone for 10 months.  I am just starting and what I know so far is that I am not a person to live with someone else.  I’ve been craving my space and solitude for years.  I accept people who need to have people around all the time, but I am not able to understand it.  I love doing things with my friends, but I need my privacy and the space. There is nothing better than arriving home, taking off uncomfortable clothes and shoes, turning on the music, having a glass of wine and just celebrating myself.  I can dance if I want to.

Living alone means…
I can cook at 3 am.
I can leave my books anywhere.
I can wear whatever I want (even if it means almost nothing).
I don’t need to close the door to take a shower.
I don’t have a time to leave and I don’t have a time to come back home.
When I am back home, my privacy and safety will always be waiting for me.
There are no judgments.  I am the one making the rules, and I can either follow them or just make new ones.

Things I love to do alone:
~Explore places
~Read a book in a coffee shop
~Meditate in a park
~Run or walk with no destination
~I also enjoy my sad moments.  I learn so much listening to my deepest feelings.  I used to be more emotional in the past, crying about anything.  Today, I hardly cry, but when it happens (in my privacy), I feel like it cleans my soul.
~My spiritual moments are special to me.  Living alone, to me, means a deeper connection with God.  Part of my daily ritual is praying, and strengthening the connections between God and myself.  I can have a moment when I am disconnected from the exterior world.  I have my thoughts raised to God.  It is a moment of being thankful and trying to learn by my mistakes.  I don’t need to attend church events to show people that I am a Christian person.  I don’t need to prove it to anyone.  It is just between my beliefs and myself.

Museu do Ipiranga (Museu Paulista) is the place where Brazil declared its independence from Portugal.  It is a park/museum really close to my parent's house.  I love that place.   Photo credit:  the author
Museu do Ipiranga (Museu Paulista) is the place where Brazil declared its independence from Portugal.  It is a park/museum really close to my parents’ house.  I love that place.
Photo credit: the author

A little background:  from Brazil to the United States
The culture in which I was raised is very different from the United States culture.  It is not common to leave your parents’ house after high school, or after college!  Normally, we leave our parents’ house to get married, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.  For some reason since my early stages, I always felt that that reality was not for me.  I was 7 or 8 years old when I first said I would never get married.  Around the same age, I said I would like to have my own place to live alone.  Everyone used to deal with it saying, “It is just a child thing — nothing to care about.”  My parents were supportive and I love them from my soul, but my personality doesn’t match their expectations about me.  I’ve been craving my solitude for years.  Even when I was living with then, I constructed my own world inside the house.  My bedroom/office was my space, the place where I used to spend the majority of my time when I was at home.  There was a separation between “my things” and “the family things.”  But in the later years, I felt suffocated.  It was just impossible to keep living that way.

Holidays and daily celebrations
In the Protestant religious culture in which I was raised, we didn’t celebrate holidays. When I was a child, I didn’t talk about it because I just had no idea how to deal with the diversity.  I had no idea how to answer people who were always saying to me that I should celebrate.  Nowadays, people still argue why I don’t celebrate holidays.  It never changed.  I changed.  I just assumed that I didn’t need to give explanations about my life.  The weird thing about it is I do respect all the cultures and beliefs, but apparently, many people are not yet ready to do the same.  For me, Christmas and Easter are days as any other in the year.  I do the things exactly the same way.

I do celebrate New Year’s Eve.  I have the feeling that in the New Year, everything will be different in a positive way.  Years ago, I used to face this date with a big celebration.  It was our family ritual, my mother and I preparing tons of food like crazy, cleaning the house, trying to have everything done.  Last year, I was in Chicago seeing the fireworks at the Navy Pier.  I looked up at the sky between the crowd and I celebrated my solitude.

I always believe that we need to celebrate everything in life.  I like to make toasts when drinking with someone.  I like to celebrate life and to feel alive.  Part of my ritual is to cook special dishes for myself.  Every day is a special occasion to me.  I like to cook different recipes, I like to decorate the plates, and I have a special guest over almost every day: myself.  People ask “Why?”  The answer is, “Because I am alive.”  I take pleasure in cooking for me, and I enjoy eating it.  I enjoy hearing music, drinking wine and eating good food made by me for myself.  Why do I need to wait for a special occasion to celebrate when I can have a daily celebration?

Poços de Caldas, in the state of Minas Gerais, is a small town surrounded by mountains about 4 hours away from São Paulo.  It is a lovely place to go and have a little peace! (That is me running in that picture!)   Photo credit:  the author
Poços de Caldas, in the state of Minas Gerais, is a small town surrounded by mountains about 4 hours away from São Paulo.  It is a lovely place to go and have a little peace!
(That is me running in that picture!)
Photo credit:  the author

Relationships:  choosing to be single
I have known many people in my life, but I’ve never had a real relationship.  In my culture before having something serious, we spend a considerable amount of time talking, trying to be friends before going on.  In my religious culture, dating meant engagement before marriage.  In an attempt to do the “right thing,” I tried many times to have a real relationship.  For many years, my answers about relationships were defensive.  I am glad for all the times I spent meeting people.  I am also glad that I am still single.  I wouldn’t be able to live a life that is not mine.  Right now, I do not want to leave behind my personal beliefs and identity.

I assume that a very small part of me has the curiosity to know what true love means and how it is possible to construct a life with someone else.  Part of it is because I cannot see myself alone when elderly.  By the other hand, the biggest part of me knows that even if I decide to share my life with someone, it will hardly work.  My ideas about relationships do not match my family’s traditions.  My idea is freedom.  I could have a real relationship with someone living in another place, with each of us living according to our own rules and not as each other’s property.  Some days, I feel the need to have someone but on other days, I get up in the morning thinking, “If I had someone, today is the day the relationship would be broken.”  My father used to say that I have a free spirit.  He and I have a deal:  if one day I find someone to live with, I will introduce the person to the family just after getting married.  He agreed.

Singleton friends
I have many friends who also live alone.  The majority of them are older than I am.  The greatest thing about it is they always encourage me to live my life following my instincts.  I remember having the “living solo people” as my models during my childhood.  They are still my models and now I am becoming a model to other friends.  Since my first day living alone, I’ve been receiving messages from friends sharing their desire to do the same!  I am glad that three of my friends just moved into their own apartments.  I still have some friends who are married, but we don’t see each other often.  We saw each other just during specific events.  My friends who have children are now busy raising their little ones, attending kids’ birthdays, drinking leftover juice from their children’s cups and changing diapers over and over again.  Our paths are different now.

My singleton friends are the most amazing people I have ever known.  They are people with more confidence, many experiences to share, with a colorful and bright life even during the bad moments.  They have reached a status in life that makes it unnecessary to live to make another person happy.  Their self-satisfaction is the priority.  It can be contradictory, but people who are self-realized tend to be more open to help anyone while expecting nothing back, and even more open to accepting their differences!

I am just starting my single journey.  Let the trip begin!

— Nina Gar
May 2015

Aiko is my cat in São Paulo. I miss her everyday.  Photo credit:  the author
Aiko is my cat in São Paulo. I miss her everyday. Photo credit:  the author

I am a normal person – at least in my perspective – who likes flowers (violets are special), cats, books and wine.
My blog, Divagações e outros bichos! (Rambling and other things!) is here:  http://divagarporai.blogspot.com/
I’ve been living in the United States for almost 10 months as an international student from São Paulo, Brazil, but it is more than that:  from my previous life, I left behind jobs, a comfortable and stationary life with my parents, and old beliefs.

I am now on a trip to my soul.

The author near Albuquerque, New Mexico.   Photo credit:  Es Bee
The author near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo credit:  Es Bee

This is part of the Who but You? living alone series.  Check out the other posts!  They are published on periodic Mondays or Tuesdays.

Join the Who but You? project:  e-mail your story, prose, poetry, art and/or photos about living alone to powerofpaperzines@gmail.com for consideration.  All ages, all countries/cities, all solo living situations – from temporary & despised, to permanent & treasured – would be appreciated.  In addition to your story/art, please include:
• a brief Bio with an associated profile photo.  This may be an actual photo of you, or a more anonymous photo of something you believe represents you as a person.
• 1–4 photos additional photos with photo credits
• your fake (pen) name or real name

For more information:  https://whobutyouproject.wordpress.com/who-but-you-series/.

❤ Thank you for taking the time to view the works of independent storytellers, poets and artists. ❤

–ka

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Obrigada Nina e bemvinda! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. K. Adonna says:

      Your comment sounds so gorgeous! I tried Googling and it gave back an incomplete sentence. Boo!

      Like

  2. Jean says:

    Nina, I, too, love cooking for myself. Like you, I think I’m worth a special meal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. K. Adonna says:

      Hi Jean! I will pass on your comment to Nina — if she hasn’t already seen it. I definitely think we are all worth beautifully presented, delicious meals!

      Like

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