Every night before going to sleep, I open the curtain a little to see the outside. I don't know what I’m supposed to find out there, but it has become a bit of a habit.
Up my window, I see a couple of houses a few meters away from mine; they’re not pretty, big nor elegant. Some of them look more modern than others, since this is an old neighborhood.
Today is a particular day and that is because I don't usually look out the window during daylight, but I do it now just to feel the wind touching my face; almost like a welcoming hug.
Few things in life give me that pleasure. That's why I stay a couple of minutes in front of the window, take a deep breath and close my eyes.
"I wish the weather was always this nice. That it was cold all day, but only slightly, to the extent of needing a sweater and nothing else. Cloudy sky, rainy days…" I sigh and open my eyes. "Incredible."
Every day I think the next day will be the exact same as the previous one, maybe with some tiny changes. The routine in which I have immersed myself for few months, has begun to consume the motivation to do anything else.
And the thought of my family showing up in my head is enough to want to run out of my room.
I take the backpack from the floor, place it on my shoulder and give a last long look at the mirror before starting my usual activities.
Looking at my reflection, it’s inevitable that a smile comes out of my mouth, but it is not just any smile; it’s far from being a happy smile. This smile represents something else. It represents the battles of yesterday, the immense possibilities of tomorrow and all that I can achieve today.
It takes me 5 minutes to go from my room to the garage. By the time I arrive, I already have the keys in hand, so I get into the car without any setback. I put the backpack on the passenger's floor, start the engine and leave the house.
Some people question me why I don't study in a regular basis. But what is regular? If by regular they mean to waste your time with something you don't like or that it causes you any level of discomfort, then, will it be really okay to do it?
I guess people are used to doing what they ‘are supposed to do’ and get the results they inevitably end up getting, no further ado.
In order to not extend the conversation, I usually answer: "I am considering my options". And there is some truth to it, but I’m lying as well.
For 20 years of my life, all I did was meet the expectations and demands of my grandparents. Last year I got tired of it and I stopped all together. Besides them, nobody knows that I suffer from a rare skin disorder caused by stress. Ever since a child, doctors have tried to cure it, but there seem to be only one way to eradicate it for good: stop stressing, which in my case translates into practically stop living.
I have visited doctors at least ten times throughout my life. I have tried everything from naturopathic medicine, relaxation techniques, conventional prescribed pills, oils, creams and therapy.
Lack of sleep, anxiety, headaches, bad mood and difficulty concentrating? The answer is yes, I experience all of the above in an average day.
If we add to that the tension I always find at home, my grandmother’s lectures, the constant criticism she gives me at everything and anything, but mostly of all, the fact that I don’t have a proper constituted family, could a person not understand the reasons behind all of my decisions?
It’s obvious my story would cause pity to anyone who would take the time to listen to it, if only I could be that honest for a split second and tell it. That's why not many people understand why I isolate myself from the world, they simply judge what they see and don't mind understanding any reasons beyond their beliefs.
And somehow, I became equally critical, but not in a sense of cruelty as they do it, but of pure honesty.
That’s the way I get so many enemies in such a short period of time. If people like to measure others for what they believe, why shouldn't I do the same for what ‘it is’?
Right there is another reason to be disliked by them: what I am and what they are.
Speaking from experience, both my own and the one I have learned from others, I have kept in my head a list of adjectives that people have used to describe me, at least recently: intelligent, bad, antisocial, rich, rare, beautiful, superficial, prejudiced, mysterious.
Now I know that the word someone uses to describe me doesn’t accurately reflect who I am or what I have lived, but for many years I let those words define me.
Getting here was a long, painful and distressing road.
Detained in the parking lot of Lauren University, I analyze my life, my achievements, my lost battles, but especially my future. What else is left for me to do if not the most important of all?
I have to leave home for my mental well-being. I don't know how much more I will be able to endure in a lunatic house.
I look at my cell phone clock. Ten minutes to eleven, I decide it’s time to get out of the car and head to the classroom. As I cross the campus to get to building H, I look at the few people walking from one side to the other, each one going to a different place. I think about all the time I lost traveling the same roads to reach the same destinations. Where did I get? The correct answer is: not far away.
Until a year ago, I was studying full-time, but not in this college. I guess that year was the last of old Ambar, because since then many things have changed inside me, and I’m certainly not the same person.
I've always liked new, both objects and experiences. That's why I decided to look for another college that offered a partial Portuguese program. I’m not interested in studying the origins of the language or teaching it, nor do I have the time required to do so. Which is why I only dedicate myself to improve it by taking a daily class for two hours a day.
I have been in this school for 3 months now. And so far, it has fulfilled all my expectations. Classes are interactive, there are plenty of Brazilian native teachers, limited vacancies and enough time for feedback.
The only negative thing about this class is a student, who in addition to being part of the language committee, also studies a degree in French teaching. And if those two reasons were not enough for her to feel superior to others, you can add the fact that she is quite attractive due to a couple of surgeries that she has done to her body and face.
The irony is that we are quite alike. We both have long brown hair, we are thin, same height, complexion and skin tone. Of course, there are some differences. My eyes are brown, hers are similar to honey. My hair is wavy, hers is straight. My body is toned thanks to exercise and she doesn't like activities that involve any body effort.
We are very different in terms of facial features, since she has the characteristic face of whom is addicted to scalpel. Apparently, her parents give her appointments with a surgeon on her birthday and Christmas.
Needless to clarify, the virtue we shared the most is both Nora and I have a particularly attractive body. Though, I must say she has fake breasts, so her curves are more pronounced than mine.
Superficiality aside, there are similarities in other aspects as well. We are both competitive and ambitious. We like to learn languages and we come from important families.
Where she speaks English, French and Portuguese, I do the same in English, Portuguese and Spanish. We only have one language that differentiates us, but for some reason she believes that speaking Spanish is not relevant.
I admit we don't get along. That's probably why I think about her so much. I admit as well she is the only reason why I dislike attending extracurricular events organized by the language committee.
As soon as I arrive to the classroom, I realize my nemesis is already sitting in her usual place. She finds herself biting a pencil in a flirtatious way and talking to a boy next to her.
I sigh and step in front of her to reach the other end of the room.
"Ambar dear, why don't you sit here?"
"There are plenty of seats, Nora." I answer without even looking at her or stopping.
"Is it fun to always be alone?" She adds with an increasingly mocking tone.
"I love it." I turn around and face her, which she dislikes. "You like assumptions, don't you? Then you should know anyone would love to be alone, if that would mean not having a dummy monopolizing the space in between." I wink at her while the few students in the classroom laugh.
The class develops without major issue, although sometimes I feel Nora's gaze on me.
On my way back to the parking lot, I think about how interested Nora has been in all things related to me, ever since I arrived at this college.
At first, she was kind and extra polite. She invited me to places, parties and meetings, though I always came with an excuse in order to decline the invitation. At some point, she got tired of looking for me and her interest faded.
While I’m not a person who enjoys the nightlife surrounded by alcohol and music, I wouldn’t have cared to attend her events from time to time.
Main issue being that as I got to know Nora, I realized she is not a person to be trusted, so I preferred to avoid her. I don't know if by doing that I did the right thing, but I certainly won an enemy.
There are days when she seems obsessed about me, be it the way she looks at me or the things she tells me.
If I have learned anything at all, it’s that even if I reject her, she will always have something to say or do in order to try to reach me. If everything else fails, then she will make me feel bad by any mean.
There are days when I think she is jealous of me or that she sees me as competition. Truth being she is used to control everyone who gets close to her and that doesn’t work with me. Maybe she just sees in me a threat of some kind and doesn't know how to approach me.
Every day I drive 40 kilometers from school to a gym close to my house. Not many people at age 21 are interested in maintaining a healthy body.
It’s quite important for me. Since it’s part of this new life I call ‘zero stress’.
In addition to having dropped out of college and currently study a language in a somewhat partial timeframe, I also attend gym. It’s all part of the change.
I think to obtain different results it’s necessary to consider different measures.
I do my usual routine, which lasts about an hour and a half. Then I take a shower and return home.
I always choose the five o'clock schedule, because when I'm back, the road is always dark. I can lower the window, listen to crickets or some kind of bird and relax. I love this part of the day.
Where for many the night represents the end, to me it’s the beginning, since it’s the only moment of the day that I’m sure nobody will bother me at home.
When I arrive, they will be asleep.
I enter slowly, making the least possible noise. I smile inevitably. It's almost as if I'm doing something forbidden; being happy for a fraction of a minute.
Climbing the stairs, my backpack gets stuck in the handrail.
"Please don't make noise, please, please." I say between whispers as I subtly take off my backpack so I can untie whatever got stuck.
A door creaks as it opens.
Without having time to act, I pull the backpack. I can swear that something has broken by the sound of the fabric peeling off the handrail. I'll fix it later.
I run up the stairs, go into my room and close the door behind me. I lean my body against the wood, but not before putting the safety lock.
I remain silent as I hear footsteps coming from the hall. Once they move away, I can finally breathe. I turn on the light, look around and realize that someone has been rummaging my stuff. It’s the small details that give it away.
And I spend so much time here that I obviously know my own room. Invasion of privacy is what I call it.
And I know who was here, the only person who dares to do things like this: my grandmother. I turn my eyes at the thought and drop the backpack on the floor.
I take off my shoes, sweater, blouse and jeans, staying in my underwear. I take a few steps to the dressing table, to take a look at my body. I've been going to the gym for months and I've already got a toned body. I've always been thin, but I like this appearance way more.
I don't wear any makeup right now, since I took it off at the gym before taking a shower. Although the eyelash extensions and the lip balm make me look like I'm wearing a little makeup.
Suddenly, I feel quite lonely as I observe the reflection of my face and body.
I bet many would like to have me, but would I like to have someone?
Physically, I have changed a lot in recent years. If I felt undervalued by men before, today I have the power to reject, manipulate or destroy them.
The idea gives me a sense of control, because I know what they think when they see me: desire and frustration. On the one hand, it’s clear that my physical attractiveness is a weakness to men. On the other hand, they find it unrealistic to approach someone who seems unattainable.
That is the real reason why girls like Nora have the world at their feet. They take advantage of their beauty to get what they want; seducing and playing with the feelings of others.
Instead, girls like me act as if no one would ever meet the requirements to be with them; building a huge barrier around. No one is enough for me and I don't care hiding it.
I pull out a pajama set from a drawer, leave it on the dresser and tie my hair. Then, I proceed to change in the bathroom, since doing it in my room would be a bad idea considering that my grandmother has forced the door on previous occasions.
Minutes later, I find myself in the kitchen preparing a dish for dinner.
This room is far enough from my grandparents' bedroom, so I don't have to worry about the noise.
I place a finger on my lips as I look inside the refrigerator. Then I remove it when I realize that I can't find an ingredient.
"To make bacon-stuffed potato croquettes, I mainly need potatoes. Where the hell are they?" I remove a few containers and food until I find them.
Finishing cooking dinner takes me 40 minutes. It’s 10 p.m. when I start eating. I look outside the house through the back door, while bringing a bite to my mouth. Again, I wander between thoughts for not having the mind occupied with something else.
Why do I feel so empty? Why changing my routine was not enough? Maybe I should give new experiences a chance, mainly to people. I should get friends or a boyfriend.
I laugh unconsciously on the verge to choke on food.
Quickly, I hold a glass of water next to the plate and drink as much as I need to stabilize.
"Sounds so absurd I almost choke."
I pick up the dirty utensils and take them to the dishwasher.
I spend the rest of the night in my room doing homework and reviewing today's lesson.
Before going to sleep, I walk the curtain of my window to observe outside. I see the exact same scenario from last night and every day prior to that one.
What else did I expect to find?
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