monday – third day of carnival

on the third day, I almost don’t make it.

***

but I do. I live. I rise.

it’s late and almost all daylight is gone, but I make it. the shower feels heavenly on my weary bones: cold, fresh. I feel like a new person. I look at my face in the mirror for the first time in days and I notice how tan I am and, unfortunately, how deep are the dark circles under my eyes. they are mismatch to my smile, to the patch of white that proudly shows between my lips – the very proof of my good spirits. but, in the end I guess, they are happy dark circles, see? circles that I wear as badges of good times. they are dark in color but ecstatically happy. they are evidence of the love shared with my city, my peers, my strangers – with all people that are connected in this mesh of colors, smells and sounds, night after night… circles these not at all like the mourning purple of normal sleepless, worried nights.

I feel reinvigorated, truly, born anew. my father looks worried, tells me my liver won’t stand it. but no need to worry, my old man. the saints protect all drunks this week, no harm shall befall me. I am under their shield, I’m drunk with love, I am purified.

god bless the blood of carnival, the sweat from the dancing brows that, on this holiday, wash away our sins.

***

truth is I barely feel the heat anymore. the ceiling fan looks like a decorative piece, slow, harmless. my whole body is singeing, like the fire from the sun has permeated my veins. I still sweat profusely, though, droplets breeding, multiplying on the whole surface of my being. a beer shall fix that, very soon. as soon as my feet touch the world outside, I will reward my dry, parched throat with the nectar of the gods.

***

however, my costume feels different today, like it doesn’t fit my spirit, like it is missing the point. too black, metallic, heavy. the boots are too brutal to dance, awkward on the swing – carnival is all wrong if you have no rhythm. so, today, I put away the first persona of carnival, tucked with care in the back of the closet, and I’m reborn a completely different, all in white, light, as a swan.

this one, it fits me today. my feet are now feathers, the asphalt, clouds. everyone is angels, balls of energy, I reflect it all, nothing can hit me, hurt me. I feel like hugging the world. we melt as one soul.

***

night fell in the blink of an eye. I barely notice and here I am, and there it is, the whole day, gone, just like that. it’s a shame, I wish we could have more, just for today. the band finished its last song, says good bye, people chant for more, just one, but to no effect. the bloco clears away.

after the crowd gets scarce, I can finally see my feet. I find a saxophone reed on the floor, in a delicate case, pick it up. a memento I shall cherish, an unusual good charm. and the stone floor from Praça XV is finally revealed and it shines, a pond of liquids from various sources and types creating a watercolor reflection of the pitch black, dotted with stars sky above.

and the last people start hopping away, high hopes for more music, more agitation, more of everything. carnival knows no bounds in Rio, it is a party that lasts until the last turn of the screw, never tiring, never tired, never boring.

“sleep is the cousin of death”, they say, and everyone here is buzzing with life.

***

I go with the flow and since an ocean refuses no river, we end in Lapa, mother of all mothers, open arms to all.

and, to me, one of the most beautiful things is carnival love(rs), those people whom, for just one day, one night or one song will be married under the bleached arches of the church of Lapa, blessed by the tram line just above. all young couples, livid with love will be greeted and blessed with a confetti shower instead of rice, happy, laughing, kissing their brief spouses lovingly, with such a passion that the word is unable to describe.

and since every bloco ends here, for a last call, a last shot, a last kiss, as I make my way through the swarm, I see them everywhere, tongues clashing, legs tangled against walls, street lights, bar stools. may your union last forever, may it never be cut short or go sour, young guns.

my head spins.

and I come back to reality as a kiss breaks in a loud POP in front of me. he is a really skinny dude, the groom, a bearded jaw, shirt open and a Hawaiian garland around his neck. the bride is a really pretty young thing, probably barely eighteen, dressed as a pirate.

and they stare, intently. their eyes are foggy with a dark brown, misty with desire. husband and wife for this moment, they hug. an kiss. no need for rings, mazel tov, mazel tov!

I leave them behind, unable to look back. let them be. at this moment, they are probably sharing a (parting) kiss. she will cross the street, back to her group of giggling friends, never to be seem again. he will stand still, trying to warp his head around the facts, trying to settle his swimming stomach, looking for another shot of ginger cachaça.

star-crossed lovers they were before they met. husband and wife they chose to be in these moments, these kisses. beautiful strangers in their memories they will be forever now.

“what was his/her/their name(s) again?” we will all say that at some point, in some carnival of our lives.

***

and I am home again and all is dark. I get sad for the first time since the beginning of this insane roller coaster. but I won’t cry, I promised. but it creeps in the back of my mind, a little voice, a reminder: Monday is over now. half of carnival is gone.

I hope tomorrow holds more things, even better things. I hope the fantasy never ends, the novelty never wears off.

I hope tomorrow the world engulfs me like it will never let me go, holds me tight but spits me out, throws me like a ball and transforms me into someone completely anew.

I hope I can make it.

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