It’s raining again, damn! It hasn’t stopped raining for days. Normally this wouldn’t bother me because I like the rain, especially on a warm day where even the most mature individual is tempted to jump into a puddle. Today, today is my last day in Rio de Janeiro and I’d like to say my upset stomach was over my uneasiness of leaving a place I’ve called home for four months or that it’s because I am returning home only to be handed a piece of paper that says I’m capable of teaching. Teaching, ha! You would have thought that 23 years of life, four of which backed by a college education, would have taught me not to do six shots right before I leave the bar, after I already reached that ‘feel good’ point. Lesson learned, at least for now, but their are more pressing matters, like the rain.
The gentle drops create a hum on the roof disrupted only by the sound of a cart being pulled across a puddle. I’ll miss that scent, reheated butter and caramel as the street vendor waits outside the school selling popcorn. I should get up, any other day I’d sleep off this hangover but then again my last day isn’t just any other day.
I fill my pockets with the last of my money, slip on my Havaianas and head out to the store. as I round the corner the bus that would any other day take me to the beach squeaks to a stop. Maybe I should hop on just so I can get one last look?
I keep walking tracing the jagged lines of the odd shaped stones that line the sidewalk. Even through the dingy smell of wet pavement older than the US I can smell the sweet potent smell of coffee. I’m almost there.
I’ll miss this, the tiny cup of a coffee the same size, but twice as strong as anything I drank last night. It’s only rival is the fresh baked roll whose crackle as I break it in half is like a lullaby that soothes my stomach’s cries.
I feel like I should do something more, as if the past four months count for not and only this moment will last eternal in my memory of my time spent here. Maybe I should have got on that bus or any bus, never to return so that the ending is merely the beginning of a new story? No, I have to go back, my passport is in my room. They wouldn’t let me cross into Argentina without my passport.
I begin to walk back home weighing my makeshift plan to runaway even though I know the furthest I’d go would be to the beach, if only to watch the waves splash on the shore from a distance.
I’m brought back to my present location by the rustling sound of an old woman digging through the trash bags. This is the hardest part about Rio, the homeless children and elderly. But there are too many of them and the money I have is too few. That is, until today I have some money not enough to exchange back to US dollars but enough for her.
Damn, of all my Portuguese lessons the only one that dealt with the homeless was to shy away from beggars not attract their attention to give them money.
Excuse me I say, “Licencia”, sounding more like I’m questioning myself instead of asking for her attention. She shoots up quick for someone so frail, her eyes big yet sunken like someone too scared to sleep peacefully at night. “I have some money for you, I’m leaving today…I don’t need it.” Did I say that right?
Her timidness quickly becomes defensive, the trash bag is the only thing separating us on this narrow sidewalk, her back against the wall my heals hanging over the curb onto the street. People begin to stare and the saltiness from the rain leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
I become nervous at the uneasiness of the situation, why do I feel this way if I’m only trying to do the right thing. I hold out the money, both arms fully extended trying to give it to her but she only shoos me away. Did I insult her? Her actions become more aggressive as her wrinkles attempt to tighten across her face. Do I just drop the money or leave with it, I’m not sure what I should do. I walk away.
I swear only a month ago she was sitting in that same spot asking for money, was it her or did I just insult a woman taking out the trash? No, I’m sure it was her or at least that she had no where to go, no place to call home, but why wouldn’t she take the money, what do I do now? Do I finish packing and go out frivolously spending my remaining Brazilian Real?
Walking too intensely focused on the rain to realize I was getting wet, I continue the day just as it has begun…
My stomach hurts.
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