tiny Brazilian badass
Today I met the most fascinating person.
It just so happened to be the lady ripping out my leg hair.
First, let’s get way too personal:
I hate shaving my legs.
I’m sure my personal grooming habits were something you were DYING to know about me. I mean, I do love smooth legs… but that presents a bit of a dilemma. I just want them to magically be fur free without me having to do anything, ya know?
Bodies are dumb sometimes and don’t do what we want them to.
So that’s how I found myself at a Brazilian waxing studio this afternoon (I mean, I’m sure they do down-there waxes too, but this is literally owned by a Brazilian lady).
At first I didn’t know if this was the kind of place where you talk to your aesthetician or let them work in peace. Anyone who’s been to a hair salon, nail studio, or waxing place knows what I’m talking about – some people want to talk and others don’t.
Even through the masks and the language/accent, we wound up talking like old gal pals who hadn’t seen each other in ages.
It turns out she came to this beach town in south Florida from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
She left a bad relationship with a partner who never really thought about the future. We wound up comparing notes on bad-fit partnerships, the warning signs we ignored, the lessons learned.
She told me about her plans to travel the U.S. so I shared some of my favorite spots on the trip to date.
She mentioned how hard it is sometimes to go places because of her accent and I commiserated: I’ve been to another country where I had to speak in another language most of the time, and it 100% fucks with your brain.
For my American friends who fall into the “speak English” camp: try it sometime. Learn another language and go to a place where everyone speaks it. Try to speak in a second language all day, every day. It takes twice the mental energy and by the end of the day you’re exhausted (at least until you’ve gained some measure of fluency).
I remember how comforting it was to switch back into English after a day walking around speaking in French. It’s hard work, and we don’t respect multi-lingual people enough.
We talked about how it’s good to know one of the romance languages, because knowing French (in my case) or Portuguese (in hers) helps us better navigate in different languages, because we can read and understand it, even if we can’t speak it well.
She asked me what brought me here and I didn’t have an answer, aside from I haven’t been to this part of Florida before.
I asked her what she thought I should do, since she’s been here for several years. She told me her favorite place was the beach. I mentioned how I got a place blocks from the beach but have only been twice. Once at sunrise and once at night time.
I told her how I was scared to be on the beach alone at night – worried some creep or boogeyman would jump out at me, rob me, hurt me, kill me.
She reminded me that the US is a relatively safe place, and she feels perfectly comfortable walking down the street and answering her cell phone.
That was not a luxury she had in Rio, she told me.
Once a man on a motorbike pulled up beside her and demanded she hand over her backpack, which had all her money, electronics, and important papers. She boldly demanded he show her the gun, suspecting he was bluffing, and being unwilling to part with her most valuable possessions.
It turns out she was right. He didn’t have a gun and instead pulled off his helmet and swung it at her. She took off running and managed to escape.
I told her she was a badass. Then she told me that wasn’t the only time.
She was walking home from work one night when a man walked right up to her with a knife, held it at her belly, and demanded her purse or he’d hurt her.
She told him no and continued walking until he gave up in bewilderment.
This is why I love doing what I’m doing right now. It’s not just the food or the adventures or the people I stay with. It’s also the people I meet by happenstance.
Here’s this fascinating lady who’s openly dared would-be muggers to show her the gun or stab her. She left a bad relationship, left her home country, came to a new place where she didn’t speak the language, and started a business. Made a whole new life for herself.
America is great, she told me. One of the safest places in the world. I love it here.
I hear you sister. Thank you for the perspective.
If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.