Saturday, December 29th: A Midnight Swim

I turn around slightly and shouted “Vamos?” into the night only to see two figures charging ahead into the waves. I pick my feet up and run towards the murky waters mentally preparing myself for the shock of ice cold water. My feet fumbling over the pocketed sand, I rush into the ocean and was greeted with warm water. Surprised, I dive into the waves head first and emerged and look up to see a clear night with twinkling stars. I turn over Jose and Levi and inform them that the stars are different here. They look at me, quizzical about what I mean by stars being different. I explain the stars are different in the Northern and Southern hemisphere as I took in the serene beauty of the night around me. The waves melted into the midnight sky as a blood-red moon hung just above the horizon. Levi says “Grita”. At first, I’m unsure if I heard him correctly, then his scream into the sky confirms I was correct. “Grita” he repeats as him and Jose scream into the darkness. I scream loud and hard. I drain all the air from my lungs, let go of all the frustration, sadness, and challenges from my first four months in Brasil. I dive in the water again, let its warmth wash over me, suspended in time as the waves tumble and crash around me. I pop up from the water and feel the cool night air dance across my skin as the wind picks up my hair. Then we talk. Just the three of us stood in our underwear enveloped in the darkness of the night and the waves. No barriers, no walls, no embarrassment, just words and emotions spilled into the midnight air. We talk about heavy things like home, language, and 2018. And we talk about light things like music, hair, and swimming style. I tell them this is my favorite day in Brasil. That today is the type of happiness I have struggled to grasp here. They look at me, surprised at my candor and we all are still for a moment. I share how difficult this experience has been, and they look at me differently, with more softness. It’s as if I shifted from a visitor, a foreigner to a human and friend with that one truth. We take a collective look immensity of the night before exiting the water to grab our clothes and disappear into the darkness.