As a recent college grad and a habitual night owl, I’ve seen 6am plenty from the back end. In Buenos Aires the traces of sun begin to kiss the sky. I see 6am as a hazy reintroduction to the world. After hours in the dark and fleshy universe of hip-hop clubs, 6am stained sky is proof that the world hadn’t stopped after all, and brings me back from an alternative universe. To look 6 am in the face is otherwise something I would describe as ugly, and painful. 6am pries eyes open with the violence of red flashing letters, and its dirty chalkboard sky. Its always a bit too cold to leave the bed, no matter the temperature. And even once I’m up and sitting, at 6am I’m hooded and mute—the grumpy hedgehog of the morning.
The last four days I have willingly heard the sound of 6am like sleighbells and rolled over and willingly kissed 6am in the mouth…the corners of my mouth crusted over with the smiles of yesterday. I am not a reformed early riser, but my duty was simple—answer to the call of the crashing waves that settled at my door step, and the rising sun. Refelct the brightness of the sun’s rebirth, and take the shape of the water I swam in—infinite, constantly progressing, and flexible
About a month ago, The Fulbright Committee, announced that we would be having our Regional Enhancement Seminar not in Uruguay, but in Brasil. As part of our grants we would be flown to Slavador to present our research to fellow Fulbright Scholars in the surrounding vicinity. They might have forgotten to mention that our hotel and conference would all be located on the beach front, so close that I could make out the brown of the surfers as my mind wandered during presentations.
Each day begins with a swim. I dry off a bit by way of sun then jaunt back to the hotel for a table full of fresh fruit and Bahian delicacies: platanos, cakes, breads, media lunas, meats, and cheeses, guyaba jellies, honeys, and everything good that I might have thought there would be on this planet.
I would watch presentations sticky with saltwater, bright patterned cloths absconding my bathing suit. Even the day that I presented my research, my hair was sandy and my skin barely dry from and afternoon swim. I admit it was actually my presentation that initially started my cozing up to the early hours. Despite my hope that upon graduating college, magically all of my life long procrastination habits would disappear—they are still alive and well!! After one week of promising I would sit down and create a presentation, I ended up having to make up a few hours before the day started to bubble all of my ideas and veultas of the past two moths into a 15 minute power point. I can’t say that this bout of procrastination led me to reform. I sat in a dining room of windows facing the beach and the cool morning sky with the smell of sweet platanos and ommelettes encouraging thte powerpoints to jump on to the page. (So I could spend more time eating...such a fatty at heart)!
The presentation went swimmingly, and I was reminded of just how much I enjoyed lecturing, teaching, and learning from an eager audience. Some of the most fun that I had during the conference was time spent lounging in the sun, discussing research with the fellow musicologists. If it wasn't a musicologist it was a historian giving me a bit more history on the dictadura, if it wansn't a historian it was a poltical theorist explaining to me the Uruguayan prison system, and it wasn't that it was a discussion on Fiere and systems.
It is possible that during my five day trip to Salvador, I didn’t stop smiling. I was glowing in a state of eternal gratitude.
I was thankful after living in a city crawling with people, to be in a small beach town. · I was thankful after two months of majorily being surrounded by Italianos Bajitos from Buenos Aires, that my general surrounding was brown and beautiful and sculpted from riding the waves.
I was thankful, after months of being offered white bread, empanadas, and milanesas to see plates of arroz con frijoles, platanos, mango, papaya, mariscos
I was estatic after two months of constantly being looked at and treated as an outsider, to finally look like I fit right in.
I was thankful to be surrounded by so many awesome thinkers, scholars, phD candidates, nerds, music lovers, lovers of knowledge
I was thankful to be surrounded by a language with a honey cadence and knee knocking propertie, ahhh menina.
I realized that Salvador was the first city in the Americas that I had ever been to where black people were the overwhelming majority and well, generally looked like they were part of my family. It was an erie feeling of returning home to a place that I had never been, stumbling around in a language that wanted to adopt me with sounds that I knew my mouth would someday make. The entire experience was a rebirth—my normaly constant sountrack of “work, work, work” took a tone of “worth, worth, worth” and I began to question my need for constant challenges, constant achievement, and constant doing.
Who would I cease to be if I ceased to do??
Atleast for five days, I was more than content being, shing, exchanging ideas with “colleagues” (yeaaa that’s right I said colleagues), listening to live music, drinking ice cold beer, dancing samba. I came back healed from salt water, from the sun, from the beach, but most of all because Salvador truly pried open my heart and poured in the sunshine. Everyone noticed the difference in my demeanor and it seemed that I had found my new homeland. A land I’ll surely return to & that will always be in my heart. LINK TO MUSIC.
We had great roommate karma. my awesome and super brilliant roommate Kirsten