It’s New Year’s Eve, 2005, the day long looked forward to…
we awake late, and spend the day cooking, talking, having
sex, and laughing. He is drinking beer all day, and by beer
i mean in large liter bottles pulled from the freezer, in a
consistency much like what we call Slushies back home.
Near frozen, super thick, and just the thing in the hot humidity
of Rio’s summer months.
He is jolly, but more Trying to be jolly than jolly coming
from the heart. He seems disjointed, still not truly there,
eyes far away.
He has been planning something for the big Eve, and is
excited to share with me that he’s bought two tickets on the
bus to Copacabana, for the huge celebration on the beach.
Sounds great to me! I dress festively, in long flowered dress,
mostly white as that is the tradition, and he in flower covered
Hawaiian shirt, and we walk to the bus stop and catch the special
ride, alongside a crowd of very jolly Brasilians.
After a long walk, we wander the beach as darkness approaches,
and we find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with so many people,
more than I’ve ever seen together in one place. I heard later it
was about Two Million covering the miles of beach and walkways.
The joyous mood is like perfume in the air, and we all catch it
The famous walkway is lit up, just like in those old pictures, and
all the buildings shimmer and shine with proud anticipation.
Off shore are Boats…. huge ships to small boats, all lit with
every sort of lighting device, so the ocean is just a continuation
of the shore, wall to wall undulating excitement.
Two Million Brasilians!!
I mean, Brasilians are crazy joyous wildness on normal days,
and this is amped up beyond measure. My eyes are wide like
a child on Christmas, times ten. I can’t stop smiling.
I’m Here…. at last I am Here.
He wants a drink. We find an outdoor bar, out under the stars,
and start on beer. Since the only way to sit is to pay for a place
at one bar or another, we decide to just stay, and I pay the $100
it takes for two. He has very little money.
We sit at a little table out of doors, under the stars.
Each time he leaves to refresh the glasses, he’s gone for a few
minutes, and I am just sitting there alone, taking it all in,
still a little in shock, a little spinny, very spaced out, not quite
all here, but doing my best to get my feet on the ground.
I feel a bit bewildered, but always hopeful.
It was sometime later I realize that with each beer he brings
back, he has taken a shot at the bar, but with him it was hard
I just keep waiting for Him to be there, for he seems less and
less so, his energies scattered, and not really grounded at all.
He still seems bewildered in his heart.
We have brought a bottle of Champagne, and he sends it back
with the waiter to chill on ice. We are smiling now, and it seems
like maybe with the fireworks, there will come a sort of
culmination, a crashing into eachother, finally falling into arms
and looking into eyes, and maybe he’ll be like he was when last
I’d been there.
But that never happens. By the time the show is in motion, he
is gone more and more, now at the bar, now talking to some
woman, now here, now gone. I am now disoriented.
Midnight! where is my love to kiss, to smile at, to hold?
Glancing around I see him talking to some woman, gesturing
and laughing, telling her some story no doubt…
I’m so confused….
At last the champagne is opened and he shares it with her glass,
and then comes back to me and we toast the new year… finally.
Someone takes our picture, and our faces indeed register the
strangeness we were enveloped in.
The Fireworks show is Glorious, massive fire flowers lighting
the sky and making the crowd glow, mostly dressed in white.
Finally the show is over, and we begin walking in the direction
of homeward bound buses. The crowd is a solid mass as we
slide together, like lava slowly down the mountainside, and
I realize he is stumbling. His eyes are glazed and far away, and
he is stumbling, nearly falling, catching himself, bumping into
people, mumbling to himself, and I try to steady him.
Nothing is working. I am trying to steady a 6 foot, 200 pound man
who is so pickled, he has no bodily functions under his control.
Yet he is sure he’s just fine and doesn’t need help.
I am talking to him how, yelling over the din of the crowd…
“Alcir! Alcir!….here…..this way….no!, no, come on, watch out!”
and it goes on…
I start getting scared, for he is now nearly falling, catching himself,
falling down, getting back up, and fighting me the whole way.
and I cannot control him, and he keeps stumbling and falling
into people, and I worry someone’s going to punch him.
Then he falls down again, and it’s all I can do to get him to his feet.
Doing my best not to become hysterical…. in a crowd who
could easily crush us, in a sea of people who speak Portuguese,
moving down a street where I am lost to direction or destination,
I find myself with absolutely No idea where we are going or
where we Should go, and he is unable to converse in any
Fear is moving up my spine, filling my brain cavity, and comes
close to overwhelming me… I am holding back panic.
Then suddenly there are two young men by our side, and they
are picking him up and carrying him off to the side of the street,
then to the right, and into the next alleyway, out of the crowd,
out of the light rain now falling, and they stand him up against
the wall of a building where he continues to fight them, fight me,
mumble to himself, and refuses to sit down no matter what.
And there we are. A small crowd has gathered in this sheltered
space, a crowd that is mellow and mixing, and I lean against the
wall next to him, and wonder just What I am doing here at all.