What I Could Have Been and What I Am

I could have been someone with a fantastic love life. I had only 5 when a chivalrous boyfriend (8 years old) sent me my first love letter. I don’t remember the content, but I don’t think it was keeping material. Our mothers were friends and that boy used to ask, every single day, how long he had to wait before he could have a wife. His name was George and I wonder if he got what he wanted or more… With such an early start, one would automatically think: “many great love experiences”. Instead, my love life has been a complete blur.

I could have been a pianist. At 6 I started piano lessons. I was into it, but my teacher was old and irritating. She kicked my fingers with the same stick she used to mark the compass and I was afraid that one day she would use her right foot to kick my butt. She also marked the compass, with menacing energy, with that foot of her. Even though I don’t remember the reasons why I quitted after a few months, I wouldn’t be very surprised if the stick played a role in all this.

I could have been a precocious writer. I published my first story at 9 and my teachers always remarked my creativity… and my mind absentness. To be a consequent writer it is necessary a lot more than a vivid imagination. I still write. I am not yet happy with the result. I guess I’ll never be happy.

Even though I could have been an athlete, I don’t think I would be an extraordinary one. I have the strong will of an athlete, not the physical something to turn me into a record breaker. During my school years I was good at ball games in general, and that’s all.

If only I followed my mother’s strange vision for me, I would have been a French teacher. I suppose she was happy with my French marks, so she thought it to be a good idea. However, I was a teacher for a while and I am in the position to say that I would be a very good one and… a very unhappy one. Dedicated and unhappy, that’s how I would describe my teaching carrier. My exceptional marks were rather related with an exceptional teacher than natural inclination. Mothers can be so deadly wrong about their children’s callings!

During my puberty I was crazy for manual work, like crochet and similar needle arts. I suppose it was hormonal because it didn’t last very long.

I could have been a nun. Catholic boarding schools are always recruiting new talents. I do remember their general recruiting efforts, but I don’t recall any interest from my side.

I could have been a singer. I can’t believe I had the guts to sing at a casa de fado after drinking just one glass of wine. In fact, I was 16 by then and after that glass of wine I decided to sing something along the line: “My boyfriend is a forcado/He likes fado castiço/He dares in the arena/I dare singing fado”. I would have hated to be a singer as much as a teacher. I do have a strong voice with a unique softness, but I don’t believe it to be remarkable and I would have to work a lot in terms of breathing. I always loved music, though. I suspect I would be a reasonable dancer but my mother mistook everything. I suppose mother and father only see the external aspects. My mother saw the marks and probably the family background. Actually, my sister is the good one with foreign languages. Today I kind of regard myself as someone with the soul of a dancer and the skills of a writer. I don’t think parents are good soul readers.

I could have been an Agricultural engineer. I even studied a few months to become one, but that wasn’t supposed to happen. I just wanted to be with my boyfriend at the time. Instead, I met a new boyfriend there and faced the harsh reality: neither agriculture nor boyfriends were meant for me.

I could have been a model or a designer. I’ve done a few interesting things. I could have been very happy pursuing a fashion career, but I am very free and inconsistent. Maybe fashion journalism or something along the way.

I love interior design and find architecture fascinating. I don’t even talk about cooking. My grandmother was the best cook ever and I inherit so many things from her… name included. I just didn’t want to develop that potential because I particularly like to eat what I cook. I would be a very fat lady by now!

I could have been an Historian. I was so motivated because of the extraordinary qualities of a certain teacher that I even though about it. I was fascinated by the role of causes and consequences in History. The explanation of facts and also the repetition of facts.

I could have been a poet. At 17 my boyfriends were so much into poetry that I could have caught it. I can write poetry but I am far from regarding my attempts as something serious or seriously good.

I could have been a diplomat, a judge or a detective, since those three careers were in my mind when I opted for law. I couldn’t finish my studies because I started a family and moved to Africa.

At this stage I cannot write “I could have been a wife and a mother”, just because I am one. Sometimes we don’t have a choice. I don’t think I am a quitter. There are things that I have done proving the contrary. I wrote books. I helped to create a magazine. I edited a weekly newspaper and I still edit in a weekly basis. Still, my family is the backbone of who I am. Most probably because I don’t have close family from my side, the family I created is so important to me.

Picking someone to spend our lives with is a very multifaceted process, with many terms involved. Some decide in a rush. Intuitively. No pre-terms. Being a skeptic at the age of 20, my only term was to find a good man. I put any other consideration aside. The result is that differences have been setting us apart gradually.

The reason I find myself asking today who I am is a family crisis. I realized that we are facing a problem that would never happen in this family if only my blood ran.

Very recently, to be precise this very last Tuesday, the weather changed and a storm was taking shape fast. Paul sent our guard Pedro to buy papaya. It was around 4pm. I told him: “Don’t you see that the rain is coming? Do you need so desperately the papaya?” I was thinking about Pedro in the rain, which actually happened. Paul just couldn’t see my point. I suppose I would only ask someone to do the same for some important reason, not for papaya. I often ask myself if it’s a colonial thing. There’s a difference between the family I created and me. I was raised in a very different way.

Because of what has been happening, I was left to think about how concepts like good and bad have blurred edges. Above all, I was left to think about who I am. I created a family not to feel alone and I feel alone inside the family I created. The only thing I am sure is that I am alone. Don’t we all are?


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