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Christina's Walk of Life (and all the perils, confusions and magic she went through...)
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It's never too late to fall in love again!
Butchie read Part 5 of her life with passion, intensity yet, with sadness, because he wanted more Parts of Christina's Walk of Life...a Part 6...and a 7... (Ah...But these Parts 6, 7... 8...and more were only to be told in another story, not in this one...you see, they can't be together in the same story...and you'll know later why...)
My dear loved one,
Was "prison" time in boarding schools ever going to end? Oh yes.
My mother sent me the bad news... I had to travel to Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil in order to see my grandfather Vicente. He had fallen from his big, white horse in his sugarcane plantation and had broken his leg. The leg was swollen now; it had gangrened and he was slowly dying. He took too long to go to the doctor's. He was 91 and nervously asking for me by his side.
When I entered his room in his house in Boa Viagem beach I felt strange odor in the room. He was tall, strong and gutsy man but now he looked pale, thin and weak. The only thing still his were his deep, purple-blue eyes. He held my hands and said:
- I am dying, minha netinha...
- Please, don't go now. You are my adored grandfather, my only grandfather...
- I want you to be good, hear me?
- Yes, avôzinho.
- I want you to take this...
- This ring, on my finger. Take it.
- I can't. It's yours. You had it made many years ago, on your 50th birthday. It's precious. Gold and diamonds, handmade. I can't. It is heirloom, family, a real precious jewelry, expensive and for your sons or for my mother.
- Get it, please. I want you to have it. It's yours. This is my wish.
- Thank you.
- My pleasure.
- My eight uncles might hate me now... and my mother will love me even less...
- No, they won't. They will have the sugarcane plantation, the land, the big house, the horses and the cows, the cars, the properties and investments in the banks to deal with, fight for, argue about and that will be more than enough... That's why I decided to give this ring to you, my sweet... Get it?
- Yes, avôzinho. Please, you must rest now. I'll see you later.
- Yes. I need to get ready. I am finally leaving. I'm tired to my bones...
- Rest. Eu te amo, avôzinho.
- Eu te amo, netinha.
I never saw him again. He died that same night at 3 am. I cried a lot. It is part of us... leaving... and we must learn how to deal with it but it's so damn difficult... I wore his ring in my index finger for many years but now it's kept, safe and protected, it's too heavy. It is for a man's hand, maybe it was meant for my avozinho's finger only.
My uncles never looked at me with sweetness again...They wanted that ring more than any horse or money or properties ...and it was mine. I had taken and stolen it from them. They never thought that it was given to me with love by their own dying father. How horrible and mean we can be when dealing with money and wills. Do we choose to be mean voluntarily?
Sometimes there's simply no love where it is clearly supposed to be: in a family.
A month later I went out with some friends and 9 cousins and their wives/husbands or girlfriends/boyfriends. My favorite cousin was also there, Vana, recently married to her first cousin and my cousin, too. We went to a French restaurant and the table was for about 28 people. Only one older girl was alone, like me, with no partner. She was constantly looking at the entrance. I wondered why. Next to me, my horny cousin Claudio was constantly hitting on me (every time we met) and asking me out. In the North East of Brazil, cousins married their first cousins as part of tradition and incestuous consanguinity. But, I didn't love him and I didn't want to have children with birth defects or drooling half-wits. Yet, when I was 12 years old I told everybody that I was going to marry Claudio!
All of a sudden a tall, handsome, black hair and brown eyed man all dressed in black walked into the restaurant. The girl in front of me screamed: "Enio!" He smiled back and walked up to her. After he greeted her and said hello to the people that he knew in the table, he saw me. I looked at him. He continued looking at me. We stared at each other for a long time. He spent the whole evening looking at me and smiling at me. I didn't. He was with one of my cousins! After dinner I went to my grandfather's house where I was staying with my mother and went to the front garden to feel the warm, summer breeze coming all the way across the Atlantic from Africa.
I heard voices. Vana and her husband were walking toward me with someone. They were laughing. I was wondering what was going on when I noticed that it was the handsome guy, Enio. He was there, with them. He was serious and staring at me, more intensely now. My cousin introduced us to one another and told me that he had begged her to introduce him to me because the Cupids arrow of Love had touched his heart. He was in love... and we all laughed!
We talked all night long inside his red car while listening to Johnny Rivers songs and Do You Wanna Dance became our love song...He took me for breakfast in a bakery nearby. He couldn't and wouldn't go away but he had to go to work. We saw each other every day and he called three times a day. We fell deeply in love. He became my husband 3 years later and we had two lovely daughters, Claudia and Sylvia, my reason to live when I wanted to give up... I was also the mother or step-mother for his son, Dennis, the sweetest and neediest child I ever met. Enio was a widower, his wife had died during childbirth and Dennis was 3 years old. When I met Dennis he ran to my arms and it surprised his Italian mother's family. It was love at first sight, Dennis and I. Whenever he saw me he glued his little hands in mine. I became his little mother, Enio's young wife and we became a little family. I married a virgin. I wanted that. I was deeply in love and thought that my marriage would last forever and that I had found the man of my life and that he would honor, love and respect me...forever.
I guess nothing is forever when it's not written in the stars...
After two months in Recife I returned to La Chassotte. I was engaged to Enio and he sent red roses from Brazil, every 17th. of each month. I wasn't allowed to keep my roses in my room so the nuns took them to the small chapel where masses were held...maybe it was the Sister's way of making us go to mass at 6:00 am on snowy mornings...and, I did because I wanted to see my lovely red roses...
Enio sent romantic, long letters. I suffered and missed him but I was determined to finish my two-year French course and get my Diploma. I would smoke Kent cigarettes in my window, all wrapped up in quilts, sweaters and gloves because it was snowing and cold but it was one of the best experiences I ever had: trembling and smoking while it snowed...with a moonlight. Have you ever done this? A lifetime experience it was.
Three months after, while I was taking my French tests, I received an anonymous letter from Recife. There was a picture of my fiancé, Enio, dancing with a brunette woman in the Country Club and a letter stating that he was unfaithful. I fell apart and cried for two days. The nuns were worried and called my mother, telling them what happened. She ordered them to return the roses and letters to the sender and never allow me to speak to him if he called again. She never liked him very much because he was much older than me, a widower with a child, he wasn't rich or important and nothing to add to my life (in reality, to her life); he was not the man she wanted me to marry one day. She wanted me to become a socialite and marry an important cousin I had, Carlos. His father was the Federal Supreme Minister of Brazil. (Years later she saw that he wasn't really in for girls). I sent Enio a short letter together with the picture and broke up. I told him that I never wanted to see him again.
I continued with my studies and boarding school life but I was never the same young girl that had arrived from Recife. He had broken my heart.
After some months, on a long holiday, I met my mother and Jack in Portugal and finally met Jack's three children, Robert, Michael and Janet who lived in Canada. I became Robert's best friend. He followed me everywhere we went! After Portugal and Europe, Jack, my mother and I went to New York City where I was supposed to meet my brother Bruce, for the first time. I was very excited and curious.
We stayed in the Waldorf Astoria and we went to Broadway to see plays and shows. One evening, while walking back to the hotel, Jack recognized Frank Sinatra on the sidewalk in front of the hotel talking to a sexy blond. He quickly grabbed me by the arm, took me up to Frank Sinatra and calmly introduced me to him, just like that!
- Mister Frank Sinatra, I'd like to introduce you to my daughter, Christina.
- I'd like to introduce you to my daughter Christina, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Oh... Okay. Nice to meet you, young lady.
- ...Nice to meet you, too... (totally embarrassed!)
- Are you the girl from Ipanema?
- Ohh no no no...but I live right there!
- Well, nice meeting you!
- My pleasure!
I didn't wash my right hand that night. I had shaken hands with Frank Sinatra...
My brother arrived two days later. He looked like my mother. Ohh, how I envied him... he looked like somebody... It was a strange thing to see this and a weird and different moment in my life. We were total strangers to one another but connected by blood and invisible ties that went to our past and bonded us in the present. Yet, we were shy, curious and insecure with each other. We hugged but didn't feel the intensity of being family, in the real beginning. We talked for many hours and for many more hours after that the next day but we still couldn't figure things out. He was tall and thin, had brown eyes and brown hair, talked softly and moved calmly around the places he went into. We were brother and sister but we didn't feel it in our hearts, yet. What had they done to us, for Christ sake?
He was smoking pot in the room when I came out of the shower. The room smelt strangely sweet and odd. I will never forget that smell...
- Do you want one?
- No, thanks.
- Why not?
- I don't want it.
- Have you tried it?
- Don't you want to?
- Is it because of mother? Jack?
- Nope. I just don't want it. I never had. I never needed it. I don't like things that addict you and make you lose control of yourself. And by God, I had all the reasons to smoke dope, do drugs, hard drinks, run away from home, become a hippie and whatnot...
- I can't believe it..
- My sister is SQUARE...
- Because you don't smoke pot...You are sooo square!
- Well, maybe I think that you are too bold by offering me, your sister, pot! Don't you think?
- We are both idiots in our own idiotic way, okay?
- Just respect me and make me respect you.
That was the glorious brother and sister meeting. My parents had managed to destroy our past together and there was no sign of a future brotherhood of lost brother and sister bonding.
My father was supposed to arrive the next day on a Delta flight. It was a surprise! Everybody knew but me. They told me after breakfast. They took me to JFK Airport. My heart was an explosion of curiosity and eagerness. I was going to meet my biological, real FATHER...Ohh my God, pleeeeeease help me, make him love me, make him look like me - because nobody does - and I needed this identity. I needed to look like somebody or... somebody needed to look like me.
I waited for the Delta's flight to arrive and I saw, looked at and noticed each and every passenger that came out of that gate...but no father, no man that looked like a father searching for his many years long gone, missed daughter... You see, he never came, he never got on that plane. I waited so long to touch him, see him and now I would probably never see him in all my life!
Parents are biologically programmed to raise, protect and love their children...
I guess that in my case...
...this was an exception.
He suffered with me. He told me that he would be a father for me, that I shouldn't worry. He would be there for me. Always. He told me that my father had called and told my mother that he couldn't do it; he hadn't found the courage to see me. That I could reject him. He was still angry. It wasn't the time. Not yet. Maybe one day but not yet. I cried. Jack cried. He held my hand and held me in his arms. I was so young...but I figured out that non biological father's were the very best to have, though. They didn't hurt you. I had Colmar and I had Jack. I was blessed. I was lucky. Sometimes your own parents aren't good for you.
On my way back to Genève, I missed the last train to Fribourg. I had been crying. Frustrated and worried about finding a hotel in Genève and standing in the train station with my yellow suitcase and looking miserable and useless I noticed a man looking at me. He was smiling intensely He was a handsome, tall man with dark, black hair and he had the deepest blue eyes I had ever seen. He was very well dressed and was wearing a hat and a long coat. He approached me, took his hat off, greeted me and asked me, with a very strange accent , if I was in trouble or if I was lost. I thanked him and told him that I had missed the last train to Fribourg and that I needed to be in La Chassottesoon otherwise the nuns would report me as missing! He told me that if I could trust a total stranger he would be glad to help. He had seen me in JFK Airport saying goodbye to my family, he had traveled in the same plane with me to Europe and he was right there, in Genève, in the train station. Wasn't that a wonderful coincidence? Could he please help me? I accepted with an open heart because I felt no fear and I was so young to still trust. He was a gentleman; so courteous and polite.
He took me to dinner in a nice Swiss restaurant. He pulled the chair for me to sit down and worried about all my wishes. He told me that his name was Zourab Tchekotova. He was Russian and he was a Prince. He showed me his prince passport with his name on it. He gave me his card. All true. A Prince. He laughed when I asked him if he had blue blood in his veins. He was royalty! I told him about Brazil, North America, Africa, Spain, Uruguay, Panama, La Chassotte and about my dreams, about Enio, about my life. We had a nice, different evening. He asked me if I had heard about Brigitte Bardot. Yes. He asked me if I had heard about Gunther Sachs. No. He was her latest boyfriend. They had a house in Genève, they were together and living in the house right near here. They were traveling right now. He was Günter's friend and he was staying overnight in their house. Would I mind staying there, too? I looked at him and asked him if he was a good man. He said he was. I asked him, as a Prince, if he was honorable. He said yes. I asked him if he was a serial killer Russian prince. He laughed loudly and said no, you silly girl! And so I accepted his offer.
It was a beautiful, paradisiacal looking house. He took me to Brigitte Bardot's room, put my suitcase on the furry, white carpet, showed me the key to the room and said good night. I kissed him on the cheek and thanked him. He smiled proudly. He blushed with happiness. I took a long, warm bath in an enormous marble bathtub. I fell like an actress. I peeked into BB's closets: full of dresses and coats and shoes and handbags by Dior, Chanel, Vuitton, D&G, Versace, Hermes, Armani, Polo, Lacoste, Burberry and Prada...I couldn't stop looking...If my cousin Vana were here she would have gone bonkers. I put on my Brazilian pj's and went to bed but not before putting on my wrists a drop of BB's Chanel No 5. Would she have noticed?
Zourab woke me up with a soft knock on the door. He had prepared breakfast for us. It was cold and raining. We had breakfast listening to Pyotr Tchaikovsky and feeling the warmth coming from the big fireplace across the room. It was a little winter room and we were completely and peacefully happy. When I finished breakfast I washed the dishes and cleaned the table. I smiled at him while he read the morning papers. I went up, got my suitcase and we left house. He took me by car to Fribourg. During the trip, he told me about his life. He told me how hard he had been looking for a true love, for a well brought up woman with a good personality, manners, intelligence and different. He was rich and important but he was 23 years older than me. And, he smoked a lot. When we arrived in La Chassotte, he took me to the main entrance and introduced himself to Souer Claire. I told them that he was a family's friend and very dear to me. They were enchanted with him and he was really very charming. He asked permission to come see me, pay me visits, send me gifts. Permission granted, Souer Claire said happily. We smiled at each other and I touched his arm, thanked him grandly and he, respectfully and lightly kissed my lips and went away.
He courted me for many months and visited me in La Chassotte. I told my mother about him and she was delighted, extremely happy and imagining herself in the Russian courts, marrying a Count, living in Castles...rich and important... and told everybody she knew that I was going to be a Princess. Whenever we went on weekends a Sister went together with us and we had great, happy moments in Lausanne, Lucerne, Basel, Berne and St. Gallen. He was in love and meant it. When we married, he said, we will live in Russia, in a city called Irkutsk, near Kazakhstan and China. We would be happy forever.
I told him I couldn't do that. I didn't love him. I was already in love. It had ended but I was still in love. I only liked him. I did not love him. I didn't love him enough to want to live forever in Russia, learn Russian and become a Princes forever... He looked at me intensely. It was the first time that I saw a man cry in front of me. He was devastated. He left La Chassotte just as softly as he entered my life. We wrote to each other for many years after that but I never saw him again.
My mother nearly killed me when I told her what happened. She spent many months without speaking to me... and I felt that she really wanted that change in me... as if I would become a better daughter to her if I had married that distant prince. What was wrong with her? I even thought that something was really wrong with me. How come parents can make us feel so wrong, sometimes, when we aren't? What was it about parents?
Had I found my Prince charming? Not yet. And after many years of marriage, I discovered that my (ex) husband Enio, wasn't my Prince charming after all.
Does a Prince charming really exist or it is an urban legend and a myth?
Colmar had a best friend, a Brazilian diplomat just as he was, called Jurandyr Carlos Barroso. They did the Itamaraty tests together and served in the same country together, Uruguay, and at the same time. It was there that I met him and his wife, Luiza. They were a loving and sweet couple, they had no children and they simply fell in love with me. Jurandyr, played classical music in the guitar and fixed any watch that you put in his hands and Luiza, could sew anything she saw in magazines and cooked delicious food. I loved them with all my heart and called them uncle and aunt. Every now and then they would come into my life and complied completely with my Colmar's "request" for years and years after... This is what happened many years ago when my father, my mother, Jurandyr, Luiza and I were together one evening, in Montevideo. They were visiting my father after he had had a myocardial infarction and had scared the hell out of us! I was 11 years old.
- Jurandyr...I want you to promise me something...
- Name it!
- If I die all of a sudden...
- Stop that! (We all said this together, angrily...)
- Listen... If I die all of a sudden I want you to promise me that you will take care of Christina...and help Gloria if necessary. Promise me this, my friend!
- Colmar, I will.
- I want you to become her legal guardian - together with Luiza - and be responsible for her well being, with Gloria, and for her education if something happens to me...
- You've got it! I will be her guardian angel forever!
- Meet me tomorrow in the Consulate General and let's have a formal document done and signed, then registered at the Notary Public.
- Luiza and I will be honored. We simply adore this weird girl...Hey, Christina? You call me Padrinho Jurandyr now, hear me? I command you!
- Yes, sir! So... you will be like my "father" too? Ohhh I love this...
- You bet!
- And you, Tia Luiza, you will be like my "mother", too? (I especially liked this very much...because I would have a "mother" that cooked, sewed lovely clothes, baked chocolate cakes and was really home a lot.)
- Ohhh yes, sweetheart!
- I promise to be a good girl when I visit you! Swear to God. And... if I behave really well can I have a room all for myself in that big apartment of yours in Rio de Janeiro?
- Of course, Christina. You will live with us!
- No boarding schools?
- No boarding schools.
- Ohhh daddy, can we go and live with them, please?
- Christina! (They all said this together!)
Jurandyr, that loved to play with me whenever he saw me and was just as childish as I was, got one side of the Oriental rug that I was sitting on near the sofa and pulled it with me on it, all over the big apartment , laughing as happy as can be while Luiza watched and clapped her hands. My mother didn't talk much that evening and kept her thoughts to herself but I could see worry, concern and devotion in my father's eyes.
He did choose the best person to watch over me and Jurandyr was present in my life for many years to come.
And it was Jurandyr and Luiza that called me in the boarding school and met me in Switzerland, over a long holiday - taking me out of there and we went to France by car. We traveled all the way up to Le Havre. We decided to stop and visit each castle on its way and Jurandyr tasted each and every wine in the vineyards we visited! It was good to be with them as I was heartbroken by Enio and in need of parental advice, tenderness and love and by God they knew how to love me!
A year later, I returned to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and to Ipanema beach. I successfully passed in two University Courses: Letters and Arts in PUC - Universidade Catolica and Law in Gama Filho University. In the first one, in 8th place, in the second one, in 12th place among thousands of candidates. You normally chose one, but I, chose both. I studied all day: in the morning, PUC, in the evening, Gama Filho. I studied hard in the afternoon, went to the beach, walked by the seashore, stayed home with Angela - she lived there with me now - and I had no boyfriends. I was confused and lonely.
Enio (and Dennis) again
After two long years Enio called me all of a sudden. He wanted to meet me in secret. He wanted to explain what had really happened. We met and I felt the same feelings as before. He told me that my cousin, the one he was dating, had sent me that anonymous letter with that picture! The woman he was with in that club was a friend that was having her debut in the club and had asked him to escort her as she had no boyfriend. She was a close friend, nothing had happened. He didn't date her or love her. He loved and adored me. He had waited. He had to explain it to me, personally. He had called and written but my mother had blocked his calls and returned his letters. He had a letter from my cousin, addressed to me, explaining the confusion, apologizing. He loved me and only wanted me. Would I please marry him? Of course I would marry him! I loved him with all my heart and had been suffering without him!
We got married in Rio de Janeiro one month after. My mother was angry, Jack was delighted, my brother couldn't come and my father sent two thousand dollars as a wedding gift , which my mother managed swiftly to get and travel to Europe a month before my wedding!
It was a small, thin wedding but lovely and special for me. Dennis, with 5 years old, was the pageant boy and proudly took the wedding rings. During the small wedding gathering, some guests, that didn't know about Dennis yet, looked at me in both shock and surprise, when Dennis - with his little index finger wrapped around my wedding dress - was lovingly saying: "Mamãe, mamãe, mamãe...I have a mamãe now!"
We went to Bariloche on our honeymoon and lived in São Paulo for 10 good years. I had my daughter Claudia and two years later my daughter Sylvia, both the real love, pride and joy of my life. I planned the pregnancy of each one and loved the pregnancy, the breastfeeding and protecting them. I just wanted to be a mother. Only they can tell if I was a good mother.
I tried hard to be Dennis' mother but I guess I wasn't that good to him. He used to love me and called me mamãe but today he calls me Christina. I know it's hard to be a mother and there are no good Guides to True Motherhood and I had, just like that and so young, a 5-year old son in my life and not a baby - where mother and baby really grow up together. I could have left him with his grandmother and neurotic aunt - that screamed at me the very first time I met her in Recife (but didn't) and that said to me once:
- You will NEVER substitute his dead mother! Why don't you go away?
I wanted him when I married Enio and decided (I had the chance not to) to be his mother and have him with me in my life. I often wonder if he would have been better off growing up away and distant, with a grieving grandmother and an over protective family. I didn't want him to grow up having an "absent" mother. It's hard. And so I had him as my son.
I graduated in Letters and Arts (Portuguese-English) and in Law. I did the Bar Association test once and passed in 8th place among 280 students in Mackenzie University and was elected Student's Representative for two years in a row. I started practicing Law as an Attorney in São Paulo with a crazy, horny Lins e Silva uncle and I "saw" and "learned" legal actions and maneuvers that made me have second thoughts about the truth and legality of law....and so I gave up, my passion was literally "killed" when a corrupt judge asked me for a "financial compensation" if he ruled in my favor. My knowledge, idealism and love for Law weren't worth all this cheap, degrading and aggressive profession. This wasn't me.
We moved to Recife after 10 years in São Paulo and then, to Brasilia. During all these years Enio had many jobs, was fired many times and lost much of our money in fake investments, in ghost telephone investments, in phantom investments, in tree-cutting machinery investments, in candy factories, in real estate investments and black market investments. I left him twice, remarried once. I wanted my marriage to work out but when he managed to take our English Course to near bankruptcy (that I coordinated and directed) in Brasilia, (with 98 students, exchange program students and 5 teachers), it was the last drop for me. I left him, for the third and last time, putting an end to my dream marriage. I also found myself full of bank debts, overdue bills, employees unpaid checks, overdue credit card payments, household bills, bank loans, horny bank managers, my two daughters university's payments and without a husband and a real family. I knew that he was overspending and sometimes bought unnecessary things and I should have complained more or should have stopped it right there.
It was then, that I nearly killed myself...at 3 am once. I was depressed, frustrated and financially broke, looking at a table full of unpaid bills, a bottle of wine in one hand and my ex-husband's lugger in another (I found it in his closet) and held it for many hours, crying and mumbling until my little black poodle, Blackie came silently near me, barked softly, wagged her tail, went to the hall where my daughter's room was and barked again calling me... I am sure that she was calling me to go there... I put the lugger on the table, went until her and both of us went into the room to check on Claudia and Sylvia that were like two little angels, fast asleep. When I turned around, Blackie was already in my bedroom and on top of my bed, wagging her tail happily. She barked softly again. I understood her call and obediently went to bed. I was so tired. Sometimes little things can become really big things...
After a few defining moments, events and bits and pieces, I felt that it was time for a restart in my life. Starting anew, going on a path that was truly my own.
When a major change takes place in your life, such as becoming single again, you can easily convince yourself that you have no control over your life or its circumstances. This kind of thinking can stop you from examining the very passions that drive your dreams and goals. You don't want to abandon your goals or stray from the path. But when you dwell on negatives instead of focusing on the positives of your life you can begin to lose perspective on your self-worth.
There are more possibilities than you can imagine in life!
What makes you inspire your greatness? What would you do to showcase your talent? Starting over again doesn't announce failure. It is an opportunity to find a new direction. Do what you love and love what you do, even if it's simple and unimportant to others. Follow your insights. It can be a time to discover passions or pursue a dream.
And so I did.
So here it is, Butchie, the last part of my life story. There is more, much more but this is basically what Christina is all about.
With all my love,