An Ode To My Grandfather
I met my grandfather when I was 9 years old. I was short, and had extremely thick curly hair, so thick, my mom had to cut a quarter off from the nape of my neck, just so she could manage to tie it up. I had a round belly, a big smile and lived in my Elementray school Walk-A-Thon tee and biker shorts. LA Gear was my sneakers of choice, until I was introduced to jelly sandals. Reading was my favorite thing to do, and my brother was my best friend. I was also 9 when my mother's youngest brother was murdered, on her birthday. And that was the first time I've ever seen her cry so hard, it was also the last time I'd see my father sober.
Within a week of my mothers heart breaking news of my uncle, we were at San Francisco International Airport, boarding a plane.
After nearly 15 hours in a plane, landing in Brazil was like landing onto a movie set, in São Paulo Brazil. Still feeling grouchy and weird after having sat for so long, and being limited to my choices of entertainment, walking through customs, and being able to observe interactions being made among people, was more entertaining than sitting in a stuffy plane. At the airport, I was introduced to a melting pot of international social norms. Norms that my 9 year old brain, was fascinated by. New languages, were introduced, and the language my mother and Godmother only spoke to me in, was heard all over. Portuguese. With its romantic smoothness, I heard everyone speaking it. My mom told my brother and I to NEVER speak English in the airport, out of fear someone may identify us as Americans and try to kidnap us. So, I, of course, the shy human being I was, became mute.
We ate Pão de queijo and drank Guaraná (instantly I fell in love with its sweet and crisp flavor). It took an additional 2 hour flight to land in the state of Goiás, where my family is from. A completely different scene from the same movie I was introduced to in São Paulo.
It was so hot, like uncomfortably, did someone turn the heater on in this heat? hot. And instead of getting off the plane and walking directly into the airport, here, we walked down the most narrow set of stair cases, directly off the plane, and walked into a tiny airport. The air smelled of smoke, sweat, food and wet dirt. The tiny airport was filled with what looked like thousands of people. All eagerly standing behind sliding doors, waving and yelling names whenever it opened. It honestly was a bit intimidating. Upon fetching our luggages, and making sure I stood as close to my mom as I possibly could, squeezing her hand, we made our way through the crowd. All I remember seeing were smiling faces staring down at me. Unfamiliar faces. But faces that resembled my mothers.
The long journey continues, to meeting my grandfather- Pedro.
To be continued...