A girl travels. (a bit of background)

November 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

My Mom didn’t raise me to be a good wife, or a great entrepreneur. She didn’t even raise me to be a good mother – although, that doesn’t mean she didn’t raise me to be a good person. All in all, my Mom raised me to be a traveller.
Since when I was little, she always encouraged my reading and bought me books and movies. She used to subscribe to National Geographic and she had a huge collection, all piled up in the shack outside the house – because there was no space inside.
I remember going inside that shack and bringing to my room boxes and boxes of National Geographics and spending hours reading it and sometimes only browsing at the pictures. I would learn about travellers that found the South Pole, about children in India, about secret villages in Africa and lost tribes in South America. I loved writing papers about it too, for school and even research things for the pleasure of it (I was always a weird nerdy child).
My family isn’t rich. There was a time when my dad had some money, but we pretty much spent it all building the house and we are now a middle class family. My grandparents are poor (or low-middle class if you want to be a bit more fair) and almost very few of my close uncles and aunts (and there are 8 on my dad’s side and 4 on my mom’s side) went to university. Some didn’t even finish high school. My dad actually never WENT to high school. My mom finished it years later on a night school.
So, saying that, it’s not surprising that not many people have actually travelled abroad. Well, because we are a bit more well off than the rest of the family, we can afford travelling in the summer. Although, because my dad has a great heart and can’t say no to people he loves (which is sort of the way it should be), he’s always lending money to brothers-in-law and sisters and stuff and they rarely pay back. Anyhow, we have our fair share of summer holidays in the beach.
I have one cousin, though. Actually, she’s my mom’s cousin, but details. Well, this cousin of mine, Rosa, she travelled. Aha. She did, a lot. She backpacked around Europe (she in fact taught me the concept of backpacking) and she studied in the US. She went to do a MBA there and was invited to study with a scholarship and all.
She did all that when she was about 20. Her family is a bit richer than mine, but I didn’t know it back then. She was my inspiration. My mom was always telling me about her travels and how she spoked to her about this and that. I saw her very few times in my life and she was about 10 years older than me and lived in a different state, therefore, I never asked many details about her life. I always learned it all from my mom.
Rosa was intelligent. Tall, skinny, tanned (she did live by the beach). She met a guy in the US (a Brazilian, as well, no less) and they got married. She moved there, to study and live with him. When that happened, I was about 14 years-old. I had my plans already of going to live abroad, mainly fed by my passion for Sherlock Holmes and England (more of that later). I had plans to go to high school in the US and get a scholarship and live there. I was the best student in my English class and was already teaching my classmates.
I remember exactly a day, it was a Sunday. We were all having lunch at my grandparents house. A lazy day, with a bit of sun. My aunts were all there, my mom’s sisters. We were talking about the latest family gossip. You know, the uncle that has financial problems, the cousin that has cancer, the nephew that went to jail. All those cheerful subjects. Then, my aunt asked my mom about Rosa and her marriage. My mom replied something, saying they were moving to the US very soon.
“I’m going to do that one day”, I said, lifting my eyes from the book I was reading.
“Do what?”, my aunt said.
“Get a scholarship from an American university and study there.”, I replied.
My mom smiled in satisfaction.
My aunt went on about the difficulties and my English classes, I answered all the questions very enthusiastically, as I always did when it came to that subject.
My grandpa suddenly looked at my mom and said, “if you don’t look after that one”, and pointed at me, “she’s going to become just like Rosa.” Now, let me tell you something about my grandpa. He’s a lovely man, very fond with his family, even if a bit morbid sometimes. However, he’s old (as all grandpas are when you are 14) and he’s a chauvinist. Maybe as a defence mechanism, since he had a wife and 5 daughters in the house, or maybe just because back when he grew up, women didn’t get much chance to be anything but housewives.
So, he said that to my mom. In a very disapproving tone, I must say. Not trying to harm me, just, you know, giving some of his wisdom in raising children. My mom looked up at him and gave him a half smile, looked at me and said, simply “that’s exactly how I’m raising her to be.” and just continued knitting the scarf in her hands.
See, even though my mom and I don’t have the warmest of relationships and she sometimes pisses me off, you can’t say she’s not something.
My mom is a force of nature. She said once that I have a “strong personality”, which according to her, means “you’re difficult to deal with”. I absolutely refuted such an accusation and got offended, since I’m very calm and never get into fights. She looked at me and I was actually angry and raising my voice. “See,” she said, “you are just proving my point. You are too strong-minded”. I replied that she was not one to say so, because she’s as well. To which she replied “Like mother, like daughter.”

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