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Welcome readers! If you are new to the fictional spiritual quest story I am writing, "Just like Eve," you can read a background about it here, or just start the story here. Or, if you are new to my blog in general, you can start with my childhood story of my only child culture shock from Sao Paulo to San Jose, or begin with one of my quirky, paradoxical musings, like Cocoons and Koans through the pandemic, or simply use the links to the right to find anything of interest. Welcome!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Jasmine's Serve

Dear friends and readers, the concluding selections to Just like Eve are now back.  If you are new to this series, you can get an overview here, or start at the beginning, or start at the recent set of selections between Jasmine and her friends, or click the hyperlinks within the text for the selections referred to.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012.  Glendale Racquet Club, Colorado Springs, CO.

             “Tim and I have made a decision.” Jasmine is bouncing a ball onto the court she’s walking onto with her racquet.  She and her partner Mindy are switching court sides with their friends and opponents, Kristin and Gabbie.  It’s Jasmine’s serve. 

Mindy smiles.  She knows Jasmine’s news, but their opponents, Kristin and Gabbie, are waiting in anticipation.  Could she be pregnant?  Moving?  Splitting up?

At the baseline, Jasmine adds that she and Tim have been to seven marriage counseling sessions.  She positions herself behind the baseline, bounces the ball three times, says, “We’re getting a divorce,” bounces the ball one more time, announces the score 5 to 4, tosses up the ball, and serves a fast spin to Kristin’s backhand.  Kristin can’t reach it with any part of her racquet.  An ace.

            “What?!” Kristin shouts.  “You can’t say that and then serve one of those!”  Mindy chuckles, Gabbie smiles, and Kristin groans.  “Can she re-serve that point, Mindy?” 

            “You could have returned that serve, Kristin?” Mindy catches the ball Gabbie has just tossed back to her.

“Too good.”  Gabbie shakes her head.  “Your point.”

            “All right.”  Kristin relents.  “A round of daiquiris on me, Jasmine, if you give us the full scoop at The Alley.”

            Perhaps having thrown off her opponents, Jasmine serves a love game, winning the set 6-4.  Kristin has no complaints, just curiosity.

 The Alley, Glendale’s sports bar

             The friends find seats at their favorite table at the back of the sports bar.  Kristin orders a round of drinks and turns to Jasmine.  “A divorce?  Are you sure?  How do you feel?”

            “Relief, mostly.” The sweat on Jasmine’s face after playing tennis seems to reflect her relief after the uphill battle of her marriage.

            Kristin enjoys breaking rules in the religion that raised her but knows that’s not Jasmine’s habit.  “Are there any more surprises? Kristin asks, “even like you and Davie getting together?”

            “I haven’t seen him since February.” Jasmine reminds her friends that Davie is a youth pastor, still married, has been ordered out of their mixed doubles group by Quail Canyon Church, and she’s been ordered out of Quail Canyon altogether for the kiss they shared.  “I’d say that adds up to . . . probably not?”  Jasmine looks at each of her friends, hoping any of them might challenge her “probably not” reply.  No.  They each offer an ever-so-slight nod, more with their eyes than with their head.

            “How do you feel about being single?” Gabbie asks.

            “If I think about it too much, I’m terrified.”  Jasmine’s voice is now lower, slower, somber.  But when she doesn’t think about it, she feels peace.  Her chest isn’t tight and her breathing comes easier.  “My body is responding to my relief.”

            “I get it.”  Kristin replies quietly.

            Jasmine can see in Kristin’s eyes she really does understand, possibly in a way Jasmine has never really understood.  In a way, Kristin had “divorced” herself from her parents, rebelling against them when she refused their plans to continue homeschooling her in middle school.  Kristin was so young.  She must have been terrified.  How did she muster the courage?

Gabbie leans into the table and asks Jasmine what she and Tim learned from marriage counseling.

“That we are two different souls on two different paths who cannot forge a ‘truly new new.’

That’s their marriage counselor’s term for couples with no glaring issues, hurts, or mistakes.  He says it’s unusual, but has seen it before, and has created for a goal for such couples: to forge a “truly new new.”

“Cool.” Gabbie nods.  “I like that.”

“Me too,” Jasmine nods with Gabbie.  “Not Tim.”

“Tim the Rock didn’t want a ‘truly new new’”? Mindy smiles.

“I, the rolling ball, love it, and he, the rock, hates it.”  Jasmine chuckles.  She reminds her friends that she was drawn to Tim’s rock-like nature and his archer qualities.  Jasmine’s friends all know that Tim’s training to her in archery has given her an edge in tennis.  She’s told the story often of how he wooed her with archery, standing behind her so close their entire bodies touched, as he trained her to position every part of her body to aim for perfect precision, a skill she has transferred to her own sport of tennis.

“That straight-shooting archer can hit a bulls-eye on anything.  As long as you don’t make it too complicated for him,” Jasmine chuckles, “like trying to create a ‘truly new new’.”

            “But he stuck with your marriage counselor?” Gabbie asks.

            “Yes, because I liked him so much.”  Jasmine honors Tim’s willingness to accept a counselor she likes, even if he had to consider creating something new.

            “It was my mom who really wanted us to get a new counselor, though.  A Christian one.” Jasmine tells her friends her mom reminded her of what Jesus said about divorce.  Jasmine smiles and moves in closer to her friends to tell them how she replied. “’To the male religious leaders in the first century, Mom?  You really think that’s what he’d say to me?”  Jasmine shakes her head as she recalls the conversation and relays her mom’s reply that Jesus’ words were “timeless.”

            “I said, ‘Some of Jesus’ words were timeless.  Some of his words were cultural.  Leaning on her right arm on the table, Jasmine tells her friends what she said Jesus did say that was timeless.  “No one can put new wine into old wine skins.”

Mindy is sitting fully back into her chair with her arms are folded in front of her chest.  She smiles at Jasmine with a single soft nod.  Jasmine can tell her singer-actress friend is imitating Simon Cowell, with his classic look of “Well done.  I didn’t think you could pull it off, but you did.”  Still mimicking Simon Cowell, Mindy moves forward into the table, rests her crossed arms onto the table, and looks straight at Jasmine.  “Is it actually ‘new wine’ if you’re returning to the person you’ve been all along?”

“The true me,” Jasmine nods.  “She’s hard to find beneath all the layers of what other people say I should be and what I should think.”

“Have you found her?” Kristin asks.

“I haven’t known her since I was in the fifth grade.”  Jasmine shakes her head.  “I let my family, my church, and my community define who I am, and I married into that definition of me. That’s who I call ‘old wine.  With each layer I peel off, I find another.  It’s just as Alice says of her Wonderland: ‘curious and curiouser’ this rabbit hole is.”

Mindy nods, soft, quiet nods, all Mindy.  No more Simon Cowell.

            “A rabbit’s hole is windy and unpredictable,” Jasmine continues.  That’s a game an archer won’t play.

“The rock archer probably doesn’t play divorce either,” Gabbie says.  “What made him decide he wants divorce too?”

            “He heard my heresies.”

            “Heresies?” Mindy scrunches her eyes.

            “That’s what he calls them.”  Jasmine tells her friends she decided to be no-holds-bar open with him and told him what she was learning about Eve, women, the church, what she’s found the Bible to actually say, and about God, even the sinister way God is portrayed in the Bible.  “I told him in fifth grade I wanted to know why Noah let God drown the world, and that I gave Joshua got an ‘F’ forcommitting genocide.

            “How did he take it?” Mindy asks with sensitivity.  Simon Cowell has left the room.

            “He asked me who I am.  Said he doesn’t know anymore.” Jasmine takes a sip of her daiquiri.  “I asked him if he loves the new me.” 

“He took on Rhett Butler’s voice and said, ‘Frankly, my dear, no.’” Tim shook his head, closed the door, and went for a walk.

A week later, Jasmine confessed to Tim that her questions were deep, and to be married, she needs a man who loves her for asking them and no matter what she finds.  “Then I told Tim I know of one, Davie, and that I’ve fallen in love with him.”

            Jasmine takes a long sip of her drink.  “Tim was hurt and cynical.  He said Davie would never come back and I need to get over him.  I said even still, he’s sparked something in me that isn’t going away.”

            The friends sit silent.  “He went to shoot some arrows and was gone at the archery field all day.  They close it at sundown, and he didn’t make it home until one in the morning.”

            Tim might be stubborn, but he’s a good guy.  Everyone likes him.  Kristin says quietly, “This must be hard for him.”

            Jasmine nods, feeling grief.  She wants him to be okay, and she wants to be okay too.  Could there be an easier way?

To be with Tim, Jasmine has to stop caring about what’s deepest in her heart.  Tim thinks he is supposed to be deepest in her heart, but he isn’t.  Even Davie isn’t.  She longs for Davie, but there are passions within her that run deeper than both men.

“Remember my obsession with that curse to Eve, ‘you will long for your man’?” Jasmine looks Mindy, who nods.  “And I thought the curse is the woman thinking she needs a man to be complete?” (Explained more in her journal here.) Mindy nods again. 

“I know the key now: know myself and live it.”

“That’s profound,” Kristin nods, “but I understand.  We’re incomplete when we try to be someone else.”

“We need to quit trying to please everyone else, like me listening to my mom who wants me married by 30.”  Mindy muses.  “I wonder if my mom doesn’t feel complete herself and has never realized that a woman can be complete without a man.”

“Harmonizing our inner masculine and feminine,” Gabbie nods, reminding her friends of what she’s said about the harmony of the individual human’s inner masculine part with the inner feminine part.  “Our problem is everyone else keeps telling us who they think we’re supposed to be, so we can’t merge these two parts of ourselves.”

            “If I can do that,” Jasmine muses, “Can I know myself and live it?”  

           "You sure can," Gabbie nods.  "Read Women who Run with the Wolves.  You are running, Girl!  With the wolves.  Keep on running, and don't turn back."

           Jasmine opens into a triumphant smile.  She hasn't heard of the book Gabbie just mentioned, but she she'll check it, and she knows her friends understand.  She can think at odds with them, discover whatever she does, and they will always be with her.  She might still long for Davie, but, with or without him, she know herself, live as herself, and be complete.

© 2022 by karina.  All rights reserved.  Please use with permission and/or a link to this blog post

Start at the beginning: Why did Noah let God drown the world?

Start at the recent set of selections between Jasmine and her friends 

Follow Davie's story: here 1st and here 2nd 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Misunderstanding with Pastor Tired (Part 4 of "Translation Overload" Sneak Preview)

Dear readers, this selection is the fourth and final part of a sneak preview to a future memoire I think I will call "Translation Overload."  To start from the beginning of this four-part series, click here.

 At home in Washington State, June, 2005

            “I think I have an exaggerated case of ‘reversed culture shock.’”  I had just sat down, awkwardly, in the chair before the senior pastor of my church, mid-50s, balding.  He’s a hiker in good shape, but has been asking the congregation for prayer over pain from a foot surgery gone wrong.  It’s late in the afternoon, 4:00, and his face looks worn.  Perhaps he is tired from a long day or suffering in his feet.  Had I been more wise and less desperate, I would have suggested we reschedule. 

I had planned my first line with him very carefully.  At least this idea – that disconcerting feeling upon one’s return from a mission to another country – could be a simple way to ease into the more challenging dialogue over the nightmares and the extrasensory I had been experiencing since returning from a three week mission trip to Venezuela.  I was about a month into a 3 ½ month period I would later call my “summer in the twilight zone.”  My friends, unable to provide the council and support I sought had urged me to make this appointment with our pastor to receive his more expert spiritual council.  

How was I to describe the remarkable myriad of the extrasensory I had begun to experience in Venezuela, then glorious, and now continuing, yet with terror?  In Venezuela, these had been beautiful: the waterfall of memories from my toddlerhood in Brazil, the aurora vision, and the loving whispers of mystery.  Now at home, these continue, but they are also tainted with painful memories, nightmares, migraines and vomiting, and demanding voices.  While the whispers of mystery are lovingly repeating Samuel’s words, ”Karina, tú tienes el poder” (you have the power) to encourage me away from the Prozac and toward the divine forces within me, other voices in a stronger volume are sending apocalyptic warnings and ordering me to pack suitcases of supplies for immediate evacuation from some sudden disaster.  Hoping Pastor Tired can reinforce the whispers of mystery encouraging me into divine strength, I forged my plan last night: omit any apocalyptic fears and begin with reversed culture shock, then move to the memories, then shift to the nightmares, and close with a request for council and prayer. 

            Pastor Tired looks blank.  No nod.  No expression of understanding.  He’s led mission trips.  He must know what reversed culture shock is?  For all of the previous mission trips I had participated in, the leaders had prepared us not only for the potential of culture shock upon entering the country of service, but also of the common experience among many to face “reversed culture shock” upon the return.  This happens when you come home from a mission trip, having accustomed yourself to the foreign country, possibly loving it and learning from it, and you return a changed person and disoriented in your own country.  At 16, when I returned home from my first church-sponsored mission trip to Mexico to build houses, I felt my breath leave me as I walked up to my three-story house and opened the door to exceptional spaciousness.  Our green tiled front entryway was about a third of the size of the homes we had just built, but this space before me was just an empty entryway.  To the left of our entryway were two staircases, one up to the four bedrooms, bathrooms, and a small linin room, and the other down to the family room, a third bathroom, laundry, and garage.  To the right of the entryway was our kitchen, ending with a space for the kitchen table.  Behind the entryway and straight in front was a living room and to its right was a full dining room.  Since the family room had the TV, we didn’t use the living room much, and it was about the same size as the full houses we had built for families of six and seven.  Why did my family of three need this house?  Some of my teammates were asking similar questions, sparing me from that lonely experience of processing these questions all alone, as we supported one another.           

Today, sitting in the pastor’s office, I am twice the age I was then, and I had accurately described my reversed culture shock as “exaggerated.”  This time, it carries the unexpected “waterfall of memories” from my toddlerhood in São Paulo, Brazil which I enthusiastically begin to share with Pastor Tired.  Might he perk up upon hearing of the flood of memories from the ages of two and three that had poured into me while I was in Venezuela? 

No, he slumps in his chair with his head bowed down.  Still desperate, I persist.  “One memory even goes back to 22 months old,” I tell him, hoping for an eye of interest.  “And all the memories from Brazil were very positive, loving, joy-filled.  But now I am back in the United States, and I’m getting more memories, but these are from my childhood in California, and they are painful, making my reversed culture shock exceptionally strong.” 

            Pastor Tired’s head is now bent even lower.  Has he heard me?  I shift my body in my chair and take a breath.  Everything I’ve shared he should comprehend. Wouldn’t any pastor or leader of a mission trip understand reversed culture shock?  I have since discovered that many of them don’t.  Four months later, this same pastor took a mission trip to somewhere in Africa, and he returned to report a cacophony of obstacles and how relieved he was to be back where the roads are paved and people don’t make a living by blocking bridges and bribing you to cross them.  More open than many among the white clergy, he advocates for people of color.  But in Africa, he faced no reversed culture shock.  As I listened to his story, I reflected that the notion that some of us might be more disoriented upon our return from a mission must have been as foreign to him as the country he had just come home from. 

            The hour was getting late, 4:30; I had to get to the point.  “I’m not sleeping, and when I am, I’m battling nightmares that are also haunting me during the day.” 

Still slouching with eyes off to the side, Pastor Tired conveys polite impatience.  I’m not crazy and have a genuine need for support.  Can he please listen? 

“I’m also vomiting and having migraines,” I continue.  Then I add a detail I had not planned.  “Until now, I had experienced only one migraine in my life: on the night of September 10th, 2001.”  I emphasize the “10th” and the “1.”  Finally, he turns to look at me, but with eyes of irritation and in a voice like a teacher to a middle schooler who had just misbehaved.  “And what makes you think that’s relevant?” 

“What I’m going through is not normal.”

 He releases a tired sigh.

 He thinks I’m wasting his time.  How can I prove my need for support is not superficial, but genuine?  Now at home, speaking English to an English-speaking pastor, I should no longer be suffering the translation overload I was in Venezuela, where I was translating for teammates who wanted me to translate culturally inappropriate messages or at times when the culture calls for silence.  While there, I coined that term, “translation overload,” though I never defined it like that for my teammates.  I just apologized that I had “translation overload” when I refused to translate.  But now, speaking English, I realize I can also suffer from translation overload in my own language. 

Longing to be taken seriously, I shift to the nightmare of getting lost in the lions’ lair at the zoo, the reminder of the nightmare to the prophet Daniel in the lion’s den, the name Daniel of the pastor in Venezuela I was translating for, and the attraction between me and Daniel, for which, on one day, Daniel needed to take leave for a couple of hours. 

Now I have Pastor Tired’s attention.  His eyes, no longer looking away, dart straight into mine as piercing swords.  “You think a pastor was attracted to you?” His eyes glare at me, and he shakes his head, skeptical and annoyed.  “And why do you think this?” 

            Why is he pursuing this extra detail to take us off the trail of our conversation?  I’m feeling at least as annoyed as his darting eyes reveal him to be.  I did not come for Daniel.  I came for counsel, prayer, and support for the post-mission trip whirlwind.  But, tinged with insulting skepticism, Pastor Tired is driving us onto an unnecessary tangent. Why had I kept this appointment?           

Finally, I do what I should have done from the start.  I let out a deep breath, shake my head, look at him with eyes just as straight, and reply with confidence.  “His head elder confirmed it.” 

He rolls his eyes, shakes his head back and forth, and sighs with a groan.  His face scrunches up and I can see the question written all over it.  Even if true, why would the elder admit it?

           It is almost 5 pm, and finally I have some clarity about what to do.  I pick up my purse, thank him, and say, “That’s not why I came.  I’m praying for your feet, I’ll bother you no more, and I’ll look for support elsewhere.  Thank you.” 

* * * * *

            I wish I could say that this misunderstood dialogue cured me of my naivete toward the thinking patterns of North American religious leaders, but my desperation for support ran too deep, and I had been conditioned to believe they were the ones to provide it.  In my thinking, an attraction, especially a playful bond like the one Daniel and I shared, was natural and something to be enjoyed and celebrated, not something to fear or run away from.  My heart and soul, especially with the early childhood memories confirming it, were certain that something very significant had happened to me in Venezuela, and I had to pursue whatever it was.  

The whispers of mystery faithfully carried me through that summer in the twilight zone, and the divine forces concluded this period with yet another confirmation that arrived on the morning of August 30: my agonized perception of a disaster occurring at that moment, while I was camping in Oregon, away from any news reports.  After we left the campsite, we learned a hurricane was flooding New Orleans, and it was about to kill almost 2000 people.  Hurricane Katrina.

             My perception of Katrina was the final one of a visual or physical nature of that summer.  But the whispers of mystery have stayed with me ever since, and during that summer, they were faithfully reassuring me, especially with the echoes of Samuel (Karina, tú tienes el poder) and Daniel (Karina, soy tu pastor!).  Daniel spoke in jest when he called me his pastor, to prevent me from telling his friends the English word “skinny,” a word they intended to taunt him with.  But now, the same words, Karina, Soy tu pastor were whispered in truth and with tenderness by my own divine forces.  To them I was to turn, and to the scriptures, as a solitary seeker.  

That was 17 years ago.  I listened to them and I learned from them, and I have remained mostly silent about this story ever since.  But that is changing.  Outside this blog, I’ll begin crafting this wild story of the summer in the twilight zone, the translation overload, and the murky workings within the patriarchal evangelical church.  I hope you’ll join me in encounters like this with Pastor Tired, including my first-hand discovery of that odd, cultish term I had my character Ethan explain here in “Just like Eve”: “entrusted to a pastor.”  With each interaction with a religious leader, I continued to discover that I was hitting an extra sensitive button for the male clergy in the evangelical tradition.  Many carry a buried fear of what I would call a natural bond of attraction, for which they apply a very different term: “lust.”  Oh how childlike my perception was!  While their inclinations may need to be faced, for a playful bond of attraction, which view is likely to be more natural, authentic, and grounded in truth?  Childlike I may have been, but today, sobered and triumphant over the unnecessarily complicated “adult” way of thinking, childlike I choose to remain.

"Translation Overload" sneak preview Part 1 

 Part 2 

Part 3

My other story of my time in Venezuela and the memories of Brazil

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Remembering with Mom (Part 3)

Part 3 of "Translation Overload" sneak preview.  Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

May, 2005, home in Washington State, talking on the phone with my mom, in California

            “You remember that?!”  Mom applies strong emphasis to the “mem” of “remember” and I can hear the shock in her voice.  I am now home from the mission trip I had taken to Venezuela, where my “waterfall of memories” poured forth from our life in São Paulo, Brazil, where we lived from the time I was 6 months to nearly four.  I’ve just shared with Mom my memory of the lead up to my graduation from my crib to what she called my “big girl bed.”  Mom is stunned, almost shrieking in disbelief.  “But you were only 22 months old!”

            I’m not crazy.  My friends doubted the auditory and visual extrasensory perceptions, but what about the “waterfall of memories”?  Did they think I been making those up too?  With this confirmation from my mom, would they listen to the rest?

Most of us can remember only back to about the age of four.  That had been true for me too, and my parents had returned to the United States in time for Christmas in 1975, and therefore, just before my fourth birthday two days after Christmas.  Any faint blurs I may have had from our life in Brazil were little cloudy bubbles.  Nothing distinct.  Then I went to Venezuela, ate those black beans at Samuel’s home, and the cascada de recuerdos – waterfall of memories -- came gushing out, in detail.

On the phone with Mom, I describe the inside and the outside of our house in São Paulo, our neighbors’ sticks and plywood shelters across the street, the house of our close friends the Williamsons, and my preschool, both the outside playground up a gravel hill from the little classroom, and the one room classroom, where both the floor and the walls were made of basic wood beams.  I relate with joy the memory of driving the toy push cars at the Williamson’s home with their kids, eating dinner at their home, our maid painting my fingernails in the front yard of our house, Mom reading Monica to me at the little table in our kitchen, and this memory, the earliest, of the big girl bed, at 22 months. 

I tell her I recall being in the back seat behind Dad driving and Mom in the passenger’s seat.  We were descending down a great hill at night time into a glorious span of lights in São Paulo in the “il-bu-car” (toddler for “little blue car” for our VW Bug).  Mom turned around to tell me we’d be going out to dinner and I could order my favorite grilled cheese sandwich and fanta l’arange (orange pop), and “and then we’ll come home and you’ll get your ‘big girl bed’!” 

Mom, astonished, says the memory is returning to her, and she fills in the details: the hill into the city with its “city yights” (toddler for “city lights”) was the return drive from the university Brazilians affectionately call “USPi” (pronounced “oo-sp-ee”), the highly acclaimed University of São Paulo, where my dad was teaching.  We had only one car, which my mom needed, so together as a family we made the daily trek to and from his work.  Sometimes, instead of coming straight home, my parents would stop at the Clube de Campo (Country Club), usually for their monthly payment.  Then they’d stop to eat at the snack bar.  Mom laughs that my memory from toddlerhood recalls the snack bar as “going out to dinner.” 

Home now from Venezuela, more memories are coming, but this time from our early years in San Jose, California, and, unlike those from São Paulo, these memories are hard and tighten up my chest.  I don’t share any of them with Mom this day.  I like our bonding, and I mostly need confirmation that the memories are true, and I am not crazy.  Because I’m still seeing visions and hearing voices, but some severe, and having nightmares too.  A few weeks later, I would also be vomiting and suffering from migraines, unusual for me, and I would soon be calling these three and half months from mid-May to late August, 2005 my “summer in the twilight zone.” 

But this is late May, before I conceive this time as a twilight zone, and what I most need is strength to make it through the nightmares and their chilling daytime effects.  In one nightmare, my feet had been tied up and roped to the back of a car speeding down the highway.  I woke chilled, associating the nightmare to end times persecution within my then-Evangelical consciousness.  I woke with a recollection of a prophesy I thought was in Revelation of two prophets dragged through the streets behind a chariot driven by charging horses.  Perhaps my perception of such a prophesy came from a commentator embellishing an image from Revelation out of a similar image from the prophet Nahum.  I can’t find the prophesy now and don’t know if it exists, but the image fit into my terrified consciousness of the time.

 In another nightmare, a few of us are at a zoo, had gotten lost, were now in the grounds of the lions, and we were trying to find our way out before the lions noticed our presence.  I awoke, sweating, and connected the dream to Daniel, the pastor I had just connected with, and the biblical Daniel, deemed by many to have been another apocalyptic prophet.  Daniel in the lion’s den. What about the young pastor Daniel I just left in Venezuela?  With whom I shared special a mutual attraction?  Is he okay?  What is happening to him?  I became terrified for him, and I kept seeing the vision during the day, and my mind kept expanding upon it and increasing its terrifying nature.  This vision tormented me. 

 These nightmares threw me into Evangelical apocalyptic terror.  Today, I mostly see apocalyptic imagery as metaphor for an internal transformation, akin perhaps to what I was going through at the time.  But in 2005, my evangelical consciousness held too much stock in a great global apocalyptic catastrophe.

 What a time in my life to be gripped by such fear.  Evangelicals have been trained to know the group of people expected to face the worst: pregnant and nursing mothers.  The account in Matthew said to be from Jesus describes climate disasters, wars, the call to flee, and the warning to the most dire group to face that time: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing in those days!” (Matt 24:19) 

 Perhaps, I muse today as I admit this fear with shame, that I might have needed to have that consciousness quite literally scared right out of me.  I wonder if that’s what I had needed more than the Prozac, prescribed for my overwhelmed angst, which my doctor had diagnosed as post-partum depression.  The nightmares were purging out of me this internal terror I didn’t know had been gripping me.  Could my anxieties have had less to do with post-partum depression than to evangelical terror of an apocalypse? 

 And this was the life moment to grip me with the greatest terror.  I had weaned my little girl only six months earlier.  Two of my friends in my moms’ support group were pregnant.  Two others were nursing.  All with little ones, once a week, we met at church, chipping in to a pool of funds for two babysitters to watch our toddlers and preschoolers, keeping the babies with us, while we talked, prayed, and helped each other through the drama of raising little ones.   I could not tell them about my apocalyptic fears.  Either I’d contaminate them with my terror, or they’d really think I was crazy.  Probably the latter.  But I needed help, and they were the friends I had been bonding with at that time. 

 “You haven’t been sleeping,” one of them replied to what I had just shared of a couple of memories and, without any details, that I was seeing things and battling nightmares.  “It makes sense that you may be seeing some pretty crazy stuff.” 

 “And you went off your Prozac.  That can throw you into some really wild places,” added another with tired nonchalance.  Really wild.  Maybe that can explain some of the nightmares, but it can’t explain the rest . . . ?   “How about you double up on your meds?”

 A third, who had been listening intently with compassion in her eyes, scrunched her mouth, a little worried over these replies, especially that last one.  Will she understand?   She seems to get that this is real.  Can she offer support?  She took a deep breath, affirmed that I had obviously encountered some powerful experiences, and even ones that had brought me back to childhood. Can she help them see that this is real and I need support?  “I’m not sure we can help you,” she said, shaking her head.  “I wonder if you could find a counselor, even one who specializes in childhood issues?”

 I sighed, frustrated.  I didn’t want a counselor.  I wanted a friend.  But this was my support group for new moms, and what I needed went pretty far beyond how to handle the terrible twos or how to potty training while nursing.  I wanted to know how to manage confusing world of the extrasensory, how to confront the nightmares, and how to honor the “gift” Samuel said I had been given, if that was true, and without getting swept into its never-neverland.  Most especially, I wanted them to affirm that I wasn’t crazy.  But I couldn’t tell them any of that.  So I paused in silence, and then said, “I hear you, but I want the spiritual strength to get through this.”

 The friend who had suggested I double up on my pills nodded.  “How about talking with our pastor?” 

 If they don’t understand, how will he?  That’s what my husband had been wanting me to do too, but I was recalling one of the pastor’s recent sermons when he was preaching on one of those passages of the Spirit’s move among the prophets, and he began fairly apologetically.  “Now we today probably don’t understand this very well, because we don’t see it ourselves, but . . .” and then he continued with the visions of the prophets.  If that’s what my pastor believes, how could he be of help?

 I gave a slight shake of my head and remained silent.  I could think of only one person who could really help.  And he was in Venezuela.  Samuel.

 I had already reached out to Samuel, twice, first in an email, to which he replied with encouragement, and then, in a moment of desperation, at 10 pm on the phone the other night.  He listened with understanding, assured me that Daniel was okay, offered his encouragement, suggested I find a local spiritual mentor, and said that I had the divine strength within me.  Karina, tu tienes el poder.”   Karina, you have the power.  He spoke with conviction.  Whatever is happening, he understood.  I said I doubted my strength.  Then he spoke again, still in the same warm, soft voice.  “Karina, son las tres de la mañana.”  Oh goodness.  Valencia is five hours ahead of Pacific Time.  It’s three in the morning.  I was horrified.  How could I wake him like that?  I deeply apologized and wished him a very good night sleep.  That conversation at 3 am for Samuel had been about three days earlier, and, as it turned out, it was my last contact with him.

 Hoping to find confidence in the memories, I’m closing my conversation with Mom with a description of our home in São Paulo.  I start with the kitchen, since that’s where we always entered the house, and describe it from the view walking in.  Our small, square kitchen table is to the left, against the wall, with three short, steel chairs on each side.  Our sink is in front of us and the stove is to its right with a kettle sitting on it.  The oven is beneath the stove and I see Mom pulling out pots and pans.  Mom laughs.  “That’s right!  The oven didn’t work!”  The fridge is set against the wall to the right.  Down the hallway to the left was Mom and Dad’s room and to the right was my room, which I also describe with its “big girl bed” against the right wall, a little nightstand next to it, and the closet chest on the left side with my toys at the bottom.  Then at the “back” end of the house was our little living area with a tweed tan love seat and a big black chair with a cushion that sunk down so far that we didn’t use it much.

          “Wow.”  Mom can utter only one word.  She is silent.  I have one final question for her.  All of the homes we entered in Venezuela opened at the front door to the sala, a little living area, small like ours, and then led to the kitchen at the back door.  “Why did our front door open into our kitchen?  Was that normal in Brazil?”  Mom laughs.  “Our front door didn’t work!”  The door had been damaged and got stuck.  Their landlord had warned them that if they tried to open it, they wouldn’t be able to close it again, and if my parents did that, their landlord said with a smile, they would have to pay for a new door.  Mom chuckles, remembering the smile.  It was like their landlord was hoping they’d mess up, try to open the front door, and have to buy a new door for that house.  “So we always came in through the back door!”

             My mom laughs again, goes silent, lets out a deep sigh, and speaks again. “Wow.  I can’t believe you remember any of that, let alone all of that!”

 I’m not crazy.  What a relief.

Return to Part 2: Understanding from Samuel

Start at Part 1: Translating for Daniel

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Understanding from Samuel: Part 2 of "Translation Overload" sneak preview

Dear friends, what follows is the second of what will likely be a four part sneak preview of a memoire I think I'll "Translation Overload."  Click here to see Part 1, "Translating for Daniel," and if you'd like to see another facet of this time in Venezuela and the memories that accompanied that time, click here to begin another four part series.

Beauty and terror.  No middle ground.  Mother Nature kept changing her mind.  Throughout our time in Venezuela, bursts of thunder, lightning, and heavy downpours of rain raged between moments of gentle warmth with blue skies and a brightly shining sun. 

I love thunderstorms.  Electrons are popping off in a charged atmosphere, hence the lightning, and I feel the electricity surging through my own body.  None of us North Americans had thought to bring an umbrella for a mission trip in May, but our Venezuelan hosts were too kind to us -- too kind, that is, for me.  A few of our hosts sacrificed their own umbrella for us us, gratefully accepted by my other visiting teammates.  Please, may no one offer one to me.   I wanted to walk through the streets drenched like Daniel and the young men.  But head elder Samuel, the one who had served the black beans that ushered in my waterfall of memories, graciously offered his to me.  With his round face and big, warm smile and eyes that dance, Samuel carried a lovely childlike warmth about him.  As a grandfather to a four year old, the age my son had just turned, he felt like a father to me and acted as one with the offer of his umbrella.  How could I refuse?  I compromised: “solomente si contigo.”   Only if I join you.  He smiled and held the umbrella for us both.  If I had to be covered from the glorious energy of a thunderstorm, at least I did so with my father figure Samuel.

 At night, I was battling a life-long familiarity: insomnia.  I had mistakenly left my Prozac, prescribed for my Post-partum Depression and to help me to sleep, at home.  But this time, the sleepless nights were elaborating on the waterfall of memories, which came to life more vividly at night.   I was shown my toddlerhood in São Paulo, Brazil as a place of warmth where I had felt loved and at home.  There, my family was living a life without wealth, but a slow and peaceful one, quite different from our later rich and fast-paced life in Silicon Valley.  An epiphany was dawning.  Was this why I had felt so lonely and overwhelmed in San Jose, wasn’t fitting in, and had to take summer school to avoid repeating first grade?  Could I have been in culture shock?

 Although the memories brought me healing at night, the day time called for much strength.  My legs were so unsteady one Saturday morning while trying to walk into our hotel’s breakfast room that I almost fell, but, thankfully, my hotel roommate caught me.  Don, our main leader, witnessed my near fall, pointed to me, then up toward our hotel rooms, and said, “Rest.”  “They’ll be without a translator,” I said.  “I’ll call Daniel and let him know you need to rest.  He’ll understand.”  True.  He would.

             While resting in my hotel room, another thunderstorm erupted.  I opened the shade to watch the downpour, see the lightning streak across the sky, and listen to the bomb-like blasts and drum rolls of the thunder.  I had been ordered to rest, but wasn’t sleeping.  This was my chance.  Free of the umbrella, I left my hotel room and went outside to the storm.  The thunder was loud and the lightning was bright, but the rain was gentle and the air was warm.  As I walked away from the high-rise hotels and into a residential zone, I was getting wet, but not drenched, and the warm air tingled on my wet face.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, where rain usually comes with cold air, this warmth on my wet skin felt invigorating.  The exhaustion of lost sleep was gone, and strength was built into my legs.  I almost felt like I could defy gravity and levitate through the electric air. 

When I came to a fairly open field on the other side of the street, I watched the lightning show of bright lights streaking from one end of the sky to the other. Then my eyes took on an unknown sight.  I could see beyond the lightening and into the heavens.  Waves of purple, blue, lilac, and magenta, spotted with little bubbles of yellow and green, spun together into a stunning and artistic spiral. An aurora borealis?  I had never seen an aurora before, and I knew this wasn’t the time and place for one, but the photographs I had seen by those who had captured these magnificent heavenly events were the only comparison I could make to what I was seeing in the skies, but this aurora, behind and beyond the lightning, seemed like a stage set backdrop for the performers of the dancing lightning streaks.  No, not an aurora, I thought.  Heaven.  And I marveled.  Who is this Choreographer? 

Yes, Heaven.  Another of those mysterious whispers had just arrived.  But you think heaven is the afterlife.  No, heaven is here.  With you.  Now.  This was the same soft voice that had whispered that I was to be the fourth translator.  It had been right; no one else had stepped up to the plate, and, I smiled to myself, I was the right one to be Daniel’s translator.  Could I trust this whisper too? 

            The thunder, the lightning, the aurora vision, these new whispers, telepathy with Daniel, and the waterfall of memories kept building, to my amazement, and ushered in a three and a half month period that I would later call my “Summer in the Twilight Zone.” 

            The day following the aurora vision was a Sunday, Mother’s Day, celebrated as such in both the United States and in Venezuela.  Daniel’s church put on a grand Mother’s Day celebration, led primarily by the youth.  As the mother of two very young children, one who had just turned four and the other a year and a half, I was torn between missing them and feeling relieved to be liberated from their needs.  My husband and I had both felt this trip would help treat my Post-partum Depression better than any drug, and that impression was proving itself to be true. 

The celebration began with a drama presentation of mime to a song playing in the background.  The scene began to our right with a boy about twelve lying on his bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.  Like me, he was suffering insomnia.  Then a woman entered from our left, with a slow backward jazz walk to the slow paced rhythm of the song.  She began to mime anger through her contorted face and index finger pointing toward something in front of her.  Still with a backward jazz walk, she bent her knees lower.  The youth continued to toss and turn.  The music picked up and a man entered also from the left, also with a jazz walk, but this time forward, with more speed, and straight legs.  They mimed a fight.  The youth continued to toss and turn.  

The scene brought me back to my 5 and 6 year-old self in San Jose of my own parents fighting soon after we had moved there.  I wondered if that’s when my insomnia had begun.  If only we had stayed in Brazil.  The song progressed into a peak of quick, strong beats.  So did the fighting.  Then the song slowed, as did the fighting.  The parents shook hands and walked to the child, one parent on each side of his bed.  Each parent took one of the child’s hands and lifted him up to a sitting position.  Then they lifted him off the bed and took him into their arms and a full family embrace.  The song closed with the words Estás en casa.  You are at home.  

I was breathless.  The drama presentation had just confirmed and reinforced the epiphany.  Here, in South America, I was at home.  I fell onto my lap.  Into my journal a couple of years later, I recorded the moment as feeling “like I had entered a place of Harmony, as if everything, including me, was interlinked with everything and everyone.” 

A rocking, rhythmic whooping that celebrated each mother attending the service concluded the Mother’s Day Celebration, led by a youth musical team singing, clapping, and playing the drums and tambourines.  Orchids, Venezuela’s national flower, lined up the center aisle.  Two teens, a boy and a girl, stood at the front holding flowers.  Another young man, appearing to be about 20, led as master of the ceremony calling out the names of the mothers one by one, preceded by a special beat of about four measures, and then followed by another beat as long as necessary for the mother to dance through the center aisle to receive her flower.  The mothers were called in alphabetical order by first name, each starting, lovingly, with “Mama.”  Half way through this rocking celebration came my turn.  The familiar four measures of beats ran through while the mother who had just received her flower was returning to her seat.  “Mama Karina!” cried out the young MC, while casting his hand, palm up, toward me.  I was included.  None of these young people had met me, but someone must have cued them to the presence of every mother in the room, including me.  In San Jose, I had been so invisible, but here, where I thought I was a foreigner, I belonged.  I was en casa, at home.  A dancer myself, I hopped up to chassé to the drum beats and finish with a chaine turn at the end to accept my orchid, a lilac one, reminiscent of the aurora. 

            After the service, Samuel, smiling big, approached me.  He said the Spirit had prompted him to watch me during the drama presentation, that he saw my chest fall into my lap, and that the Spirit spoke to him that I had been granted a gift, a gift of the Spirit, a concept believed in charismatic churches, but not generally in those of our denomination.  His comment came as a surprise.  Were those “gifts of the Spirit” real? “Viste el cielo, no?”   You saw heaven, right?  Yes, sort of.  I thought, still confused.  But not in the way Samuel probably meant, and not at that moment, but the day before, in the sky, during the thunderstorm.  How do I explain this to him? 

            I tried to affirm what he witnessed was a powerful moment for me, and that I had felt like I had seen heaven, but the day before during the lightning storm when I saw colors, like a— I paused.  How do I translate “aurora borealis”?  I said I didn’t know the word in Spanish so I spoke it in English.  His eyes and face lit up as he exclaimed, “Aurora boreal!”  Beaming, he added that I had received a great gift.  I couldn’t make sense of Samuel’s expression, but perceived something ineffable taking place. 

I was silent for a moment and then shared with Samuel that I had a question for him.  A couple of days earlier, Daniel made himself absent for our next appointment, letting one of the others lead in his place.  Most of the team-members, both North American and Venezuelan, had also taken a break, me for my near fall and the others for sickness.  But Daniel didn’t look sick.  When he returned, I asked Daniel if he had been sick, but he assured me he had not been; all was well.  He was calm, pleasant, and returned to normal, except a little more distant from me.   Could it be, I asked Samuel, that I was Daniel’s “sickness”?  Samuel threw up his head and laughed.  “Siii!  He chuckled. Verdaaad!”  Yes, that’s right!  Still chuckling, he asked if Daniel was also a “sickness” for me.  Also chuckling, I had to admit that Daniel was indeed a “sickness” for me too.  Beneath the whirlwind of my memories and the paranormal, my attraction to Daniel had been somewhat buried, but his telepathic eyes of interest clicked my own awareness on that I felt the same way.  But my reply to Samuel was simple: I also love my husband.  “Bueno!”  Grinning, Samuel promised that he and the elders would be praying for me and supporting me right along with their support of Daniel. 

            Little did either Samuel or I realize at that moment just how much support I might need, and for more than just Daniel, and especially from Samuel himself, for no one in North America would understand what was about to come for me upon my return to the United States.  The Summer in the Twilight Zone was about to amp itself up, and like Mother Nature, hold two distinct states.  Beauty and terror.

Continue to Part 3: Remembering with Mom

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Translating for Daniel: Part 1 of "Translation Overload" sneak preview

Dear Readers, as promised in my last blog post, the following selection begins my own parallel story of Jasmine, the fictional heroine of the book I’m blogging, “Just like Eve.”  When I finish Jasmine’s story, I hope to write my own – without blogging it – for future publication.  This selection and the following ones will be an intermission from “Just like Eve” and will provide a sneak preview of my own story.  I also hope, eventually, to significantly develop and revise “Just like Eve” and self-publish it as an e-book. 

And now for the first part of what will probably be a four part introduction to my future memoire:

February, 2005

            Sunday morning began like any other: rushing to get our two toddlers, 15 months and 3 years, ready for church and into their nursery and preschool rooms and breathlessly making it in time for the second half of the worship songs.  Settling into my seat, I reminded myself to follow the New Year’s promise I had made two months earlier.  Our pastor had challenged us, in place of a typical New Year’s resolution, to pray for a character gift.  I took him up on it, already knowing the one I needed, from 1 Peter: a quiet and gentle spirit.  Maybe that could get me off Prozac.  My children were sometimes a delight and other times overwhelming.  My older child, frequently throwing himself into rages, threw me into them too, and I was terrified I would one day lose it and hurt him.  Upon hearing my story, my doctor determined me to have Postpartum Depression and prescribed the drug of the day.  It helped, but I hated it.  Please, God, get me off this drug.

A long-time member of our church, Tom, retired, 70s, was invited up to the podium.  He introduced himself as part of a multi-church short-term mission team headed to Venezuela.  My ears perked up.  I had gone on house-building short-term missions to Mexico, and I had kept hearing of other mission opportunities, mostly in Asia and Africa, but I had been yearning for one to the country where I had lived at the very young age of one to four: Brazil.  As a bordering country, Venezuela was close.  My interest was sparked.

“The church is growing Venezuela,” he said.  Missionaries from our denomination had recently trained a few young, new pastors who were leading four new churches the missionaries had planted.  To assist the fledgling churches, four teams would head to the new churches for three weeks in May.  Could I make myself free in May?  The pastor of each church would lead each team to meet with families who had requested prayer; after prayer, the teams would invite the families to come to church.  I preferred to meet physical needs, like food and housing.  My interest was waning.

Tom invited any of us interested in the trip to talk with him after the service.  Then he added one important special request: a fourth translator.  With four churches, four translators were needed.  Only three were on board.  My interest was reignited. 

Translator?  Could I do that?  I had studied Spanish for five years and studies abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, enough to achieve some proficiency -- a decade earlier.   Could I be up to the task now?  

It’s you.  An unfamiliar voice from outside of me, yet inside of me, and seemingly so intimately close, whispered.  What is that? You’re the fourth translator.  Who is that?  

The voice spoke with a confidence I lacked, but I mustered the courage to find Tom after church.  I said my Spanish was rusty, but I’d take two weeks to consider it. 

Could we afford the trip?  In May?  I’d have to take spring quarter off from my new position teaching at the university on the non-tenure track (NTT).  But spring is the quarter with the fewest classes, and I was the newest NTT instructor.  I didn’t yet know if I would be offered a spring quarter contract.  My husband and I trusted the money could work out.  I was more worried about the Spanish. 

My two weeks was up.  Still hesitant, I found Tom.  Had a fourth translator been found?  “No.  Can you come?” he pleaded.  “Please, we need you.” 

I bought a bunch of children’s books in Spanish, mostly fairy tales and others I knew well, so they’d be easy to follow, and I read them aloud during bedtime story time to my children.  They didn’t care in the least bit that I was reading to them in Spanish, were as engrossed in the stories as always, seemed to follow them just as well, and I wondered whether they had even noticed that I had switched languages. 

Just as that soft little whisper encouraging me to be the fourth translator was a sneak preview of more to come, so were the memories returning of my earliest childhood in São Paulo, Brazil.  While reading to my children, who were the same ages I was while living there, I remembered sitting on my own mom’s lap at our little kitchen table in São Paulo, while she was reading Monica stories to me in Portuguese.  Monica was Brazil’s Charlie Brown, though a girl and very precocious, the favorite cartoon among Brazilian children of the 1970s.  She’s much more like today’s Dora: intelligent, sweet, and curious, but she gets herself into more trouble, and, miraculously, she always gets herself out.  I was also remembering one of the Monica stories when she and her friends built a rocket.  I soaked in the memory, not yet knowing it was the first of what would become many of my toddlerhood. 

But I also grieved it, sometimes fighting back tears while reading to my children.  I had lost Portuguese.  When I was six, Portuguese was no longer lovingly spoken in my home, and I lost it.  Hence, my own decision to read to my children in Spanish was bolstered, and this language, at least was returning, slowly, but coming.  Nevertheless, I felt entirely unprepared to be the sole translator for the church I would be sent to. 

* * * * *

 I had nothing to worry about.  I was translating for Daniel.  At 32, my age, he was young to be pastoring a church, but so were they all of these new churches.  I also soon learned he was engaged to be married.  I could follow him as easily as my kids could follow our bedtime stories.  I didn’t need to understand Daniel’s Spanish because I understood him.  Watching his expressions, his movements, his mouth form the words, and his eyes, everything that came from him landed into me crystal clear, whether I was on official duty, or we two were alone walking between appointments, or connecting with other teammates during off-times. 

            Some of these were fun banter, like the afternoon while our team was at the home of one of our hosts, waiting for a meal to be served, and a few of us – Daniel, me, and the 20-something Venezuelan male team-members – were hanging out in an open area outside the dining room.  The young team-members, wanting to learn some English, were pointing to various things around.  They started by pointing to some of the objects around us: the water jug, the carpet, the cat.  Then they began asking for some descriptions.  One pointed to my hair and asked, “Rubia?”  My hair is strawberry blond, but I made the translation easy and replied, “Red.”  Another pointed to some of the older team-members who were standing away and engaged in another conversation, and asked, “Viejo?”   I chuckled. “Old.”  Another pointed to himself and asked, “Guapo?”  This time, I laughed, and replied with a complementary tone of appreciation for his physique.  “Haaandsome!  Gooood lookin’!”  Then another pointed to Daniel, tall and thin, and asked, “Flaco?”  Daniel turned to him with a shocked face and smiled a teasing rebuke, waving his index finger back-and-forth in a clear cross-cultural gesture of “No, you don’t!”  He turned back to me and pointed to me.  “No, Karina!”   Then he pointed again to the young teammate in another teasing reproach.  The young men were laughing.  I was giggling.  Daniel commanded our attention. ”¡Karina!”  He pointed to me with a strong command in his voice.  “¡Soy tu pastor!  ¡No!”  I giggled and turned to the young man.  “Lo siento, no puedo.”  I’m sorry, I can’t.  I motioned, palm up, toward Daniel.  “Es mi pastor.”  He’s my pastor.  I looked back to them again.  “El me manda silencio.  Lo siento.”  He orders me silence.  I’m sorry.  I clasped my fingers together and spoke very apologetically.  

Daniel took on a triumphant smile.  “Gracias, Karina.”  I nodded, came up close to his ear, and whispered into it.  No problema, Skinny.”  He threw up his head, chuckling.  Then he turned to me with a wink.  “¡Recuerdas!  Silencio.  Soy tu pastor.”  Remember!  Silence.  I am your pastor.  I giggled, stopped myself, got serious, put myself into attention, and saluted him.  “¡Si, Señor!”  Smiling, he nodded, then bowed his head in solemn gratitude.  Then he looked back up at me with a warm smile. 

* * * * *

             On other occasions, like after I shared a description of my home in São Paulo or when he showed me a neighborhood dump, we spoke no words and communicated just through our eyes.  Our familiarity was magical.  Did I know him?  

I also felt this with a few of my other Venezuelan hosts, particularly with the head elder, Samuel, a new grandfather.  It was to his home that we went for our first lunch.  The meal was simple but ushered in what I would soon call my cascada de recuerdos: waterfall of memories.  I began with what I usually do: the salad, this one a simple one of carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a little onion, lightly seasoned and without dressing, as none was needed.  The special entrée was a small portion of savory chicken.  But something unexpected happened when I took a bite of the black beans.  Tears rolled down my face.  My North American partners were embarrassed.  These tears were unexpected to us all, me especially.  The black beans tasted very familiar, but with a taste I didn’t even know was so familiar.  I learned later the South American way of cooking black beans:  they are soaked overnight, cook for many hours before they are served, and are seasoned with onion, garlic, salt, finely cut bacon, and a little vegetable oil.  At the time, I didn’t know what made them so distinct, just that I had known this taste, had loved this taste, but had not experienced it for a very long time. 

In the coming days, more familiar tastes arrived, along with the familiar sounds on the streets, the sights in the neighborhoods, and the interiors of people’s homes.  Memories from my early childhood poured like a giant waterfall, my cascada de recuerdos, and kept building, filling up my mind with my very early childhood into a remarkably colorful and vibrant picture, one that explained my life and the struggles I faced in kindergarten and first-grade with a culture shock unknown to my parents and teachers.  These will be shared in the future memoire, but some of them are already blogged in my first story of Venezuela and Brazil, especially in Part 2. 

My North American team-mates held a mixture of curiosity and embarrassment over my memories; my Venezuelan team-mates were charmed; Samuel showed special interest; Daniel was especially drawn in.  I kept sharing them with him.  Too many. 

He excused himself when I wanted to share yet another one.  Later, we sat down to lunch, directly across from one another.  I admitted under my breath, while looking down at my un-eaten plate of food, that I was sad he didn’t come to see what I wished to share.  He put his hand on mine, then tapped it, and gently said, “Karina,” then he made sure he made eye contact with me.  Lo siento.”  I’m sorry.  His eyes said the rest.  I like you too much.

Click here to read Part 2: Understanding from Samuel