Returning to Val
I am back in Rio de Janeiro sitting in the house of my dear friend and Brazilian sister Val. This is a house I used to live in, a home that contains many memories of sharing laughter and tears with my friend, with her daughters and sons and grandchildren who surrounded me like a tribe during one of the most transformational times in my life. There are many things that are slightly different this time around. One of them is that Jackie, Val´s oldest daughter, as well as Jackie´s children, are no longer living in Val´s house, but in their own house in a nearby favela. Despite Val missing having her grandchildren in her house, this relieves a level of stress Val felt in providing for so many people and co-existing in an exceedingly small space. Now it is just Val, Val´s youngest daughter Jessica and a kitten Val was recently gifted from a friend, whom she has named, Nina Simone:)
Val has also been loaned a sewing machine from the non profit she works for and I find her every night sitting excitedly at her sewing maching, creating works of art from recycled scraps. She designs images reflecting the city she loves so much. Showing the tram that runs the cobblestoned streets of Santa Teresa, the neighborhood beyond her favela. Showing the beaches of Ipanema and the iconic outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer. Val´s work is entirely her, a true mirror of her eye for color, for detail and of her vibrant and daring sense of self.
Another recent difference in Val´s home is the presence of a very old Dell computer that she won in a contest. Since arriving in April I have been able to help her get an internet connection and very recently the internet connection has been somewhat consistent! Val and I were able to sit together at the computer tonight, sifting thru the beautiful contents of the World Pulse website and also reading her messages, translating and writing back.
When I am with my friend here I feel a sense of my heart being whole. Val and I have always understood each other beyond language, because when we met we did not have a language in common. Somehow we communicated and attached to one another - in the language of dance, laughter and a genuine sense of connection. Val has been at my side through out two scary hospital visits during my previous time in Rio and I have been at hers during the trials of her oldest son, who has struggled with life in and out of the drug traffick. My relationship with Val reminds me so much why I feel moved by the work of the World Pulse community. Just as Val and I´s relationship began with out a common language, World Pulse and Pulse Wire unties women that have various native tongues and come together not on the common ground of language, but on the common ground of a passion to tell the stories being lived out within and around them. I leave Rio in two weeks and head to Buenos Aires. Leaving Val and her family is emotional for me. I think about how to bridge worlds, how to bridge even this place in myself that longs to live in two places at once. The existence of World Pulse reminds me of all the ways we can bridge the seemingly vast difference between lives. I feel inspired at the feet of this as I revel in the joy and comfort of being reunited with my friend.