“You got on the wrong plane.” She says.
“More like they let me on the wrong plane.” I say.
“How did that even happen?”
“I had a ticket that scanned and everything. It must have been the gods.” I say.
“So you’re on the plane, with the seatbelts and everything, and the grey walls and the person with an ill-fitting collared shirt, and what happens.”
“Well I’m just kind of sitting there, as one does on a plane”. She nods. I continue. “And they are saying all this stuff like “Vamos chegar em São Paulo” and I keep hearing São Paulo, São Paulo, and I’m wondering why they keep talking about São Paulo when I’m going back to the US.”
She leans back, pressing up against the chipped wall.
“So I look over to the old guy next to me. He’s got this wrinkled face and broken looking brown eyes and I’m like “Vamos ao Estados Unidos, sim?” And this guy loves it. He looks back at me. He knows. This incredibly stupid overgrown child is super fucked. He gapes at me; “Não, vamos ao São Paulo cara.”
She grins. She loves it. This overly super fucked child.
“So you leave the plane” she says.
“Yes, I leave the plane and I’m standing on the tarmac and these guys tell me to get on this bus, so I do. Then they point to this other plane. So I get on. I am at their mercy. They are my only friends, my fathers, my loves. I have no boarding pass, no seat, this apparently is not an issue.”
“This is how you came here” she says.
“Yes that was the plane. We took off I stood, I tried to look busy. It didn’t matter. No one cared, no one was watching. I looked out the window and saw nothing. And then I saw the city with clarity. The beach was open, almost desolate. The whole thing looked blue and green and grey. I could see the waves crashing and the buildings falling.”
“It looked poor” she says.
“It looked like it wouldn’t care if I stayed”.
“You just like the name” she says. “Espirito Santo: holy spirit, sacred ghost, revered phantom, sanctified specter.”
“So you just got off the plane.”
“I got off the plane, and the streets told me how to find you. The streets here are made of slabs of stone, cut and dragged by dead slaves. These streets told me not to worry. They said have faith. Actually I believe they said that in their native language – tem fe. For they knew I was lost but excited, and they welcomed me. They took pity on another made from fragments.”
She pulled her frayed quilt closer. Her bare feet showed through. There was no need for a fire here, the city was always warm.
“And now you’re homeless” she says.
“I think I might have already been lost. I remember getting in this elevator a couple days ago and I looked in the mirror and realized that I could just disappear. I could forget everything. I could tuck my life away under my shirt, walk into the simmering streets and forget. Everyone lies except Thomas Wolfe. You can never go home again.”
Her eyes are dark and quiet.
“I’m unmoored” I say. “I’m trying new things. This is a new thing. The way the sun breaks through the buildings and hits the foam from the ocean and covers the air in bright mist is a new thing. Sleeping outside is a new thing.”
“I don’t believe you” she says. “I think this is an old thing. I think you’ve been here a long time. Cities were founded by myths. I think you might be that myth, the story that believes itself and becomes a host onto itself, a parasite.”
I shrug. We wait in silence for the sun to rise.