"Update" NYC


“Merecer” what does it mean? In Portuguese the translation means…DESERVE. Ever since my last entry (which was all the way back at the end of July). A lot has happened. Some good. Some bad. I guess you can say, it’s called LIFE.

In my last entry, I wrote about my grandmother passing. I really haven’t had time to process this, which I know sounds absurd but LIFE hasn’t exactly given me the proper time. She didn’t want a funeral. She wanted to leave this world rather quietly. So, in October, I will be going to Arizona to spread her ashes per her request. It sounds a little morbid to say but I’m looking forward to do this for her because she wanted this and she “deserves” to get what she requested.

Which leads me to the word I came across recently, Merecer. I’ve never lived the life of, “I work hard. Therefore I deserve this in return.” I live my life by really trying to be the best person that I can be, give to the world, show gratitude and pray that one day we will all be as one. I know that might seem rather naïve given our state of the world but I will never stop believing in the goodness in the world.

Back in late July, after my grandmother had passed, I got a call from a friend that I don’t see often or even communicate with that much. He asked me if he could see me one day after work and when I asked him why. He said, “My father had a mini-stroke.” Instinctively, I told him that I would be there as soon as I could. Than another part of me sighed because I wasn’t sure if I had anything left to give to the world. At that point, I was drained emotionally and physically. But this wasn’t about me, this was about a friend in need.

I stayed with my friend till after midnight that night, listening, nodding and feeling his pain. I went to bed that night praying that no more bad news should come to anyone’s way. I woke up the next morning and felt something on my pillow. It had been a significant amount of hair. I panicked. Freaked out and cried. The stress of the entire first half of this year was really effecting me. I called a friend early that morning and they gave me advice. Since then, I’ve been back and forth with doctors and they all said it was stress related and that I need to remove the stress from my life. If only it was that easy. However, with that, I’ve put off on going back to the doctors to find out if there is anything medically wrong because I knew that there was more emotionally charged events coming my way and I didn’t want to add any more stress to my body.

A few days after my hair incident, another very close friend of mine asked me to come to his apartment early in the morning. We only live a few blocks from each other so I just threw on a baseball cap and walked the three blocks to his place. When I walked inside, he had his laptop open and was ready to get down to business. I wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do because a few weeks earlier we were just casually talking about taking a trip to Europe.

Before I knew it, in his apartment early on that Sunday morning…we booked our flights to Lisbon! Just him and I. No one else. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but we knew that we needed to get away. Do something for ourselves. Celebrate our upcoming birthdays. We were making every excuse to justify this trip when the reality was…we “deserved” it. Once we hit the send button there was no turning back…we would be Lisbon bound at the end of August.

After we booked the trip, I felt guilty because I probably shouldn’t be going on this trip from a financial stand point but more often than not…you have to say “fuck it” and live a life that is filled with experiences and adventures.

The following Thursday after we booked our trip, I was on a ferry heading toward Fire Island for a week. Yes. I know. It sounds like a glamorous life and for the most part it is but this particular trip wasn’t exactly going to be filled with beach, booze, boys and fun under the sun. Some friends and I were going to Fire Island for the week to spread our friends’ ashes. The friend that had passed away back in February of this year. It was going to be a very special and intimate event that included his family coming all the way in from the west coast to be there for it.

It took many hours of walking around to find the place that we wanted to do this. We also knew that it wasn’t exactly “legal” to be doing what we were doing but if I was going to get a ticket it would be worth it.

His family arrived on a Sunday and hours before their arrival my stomach was all tangled up. I wasn’t sure how this event was going to go down. I didn’t know if they would like the spot we picked out. Would they like the food at the restaurant we picked? Would there be any drama? But once they walked in the door to our house, gave us all hugs, all my heavy emotions washed away. I took a deep breath and smiled.

Once the ceremony was completed, we all went back to our house and shared stories for a bit before everyone headed back. We did right by our friend that passed. I felt his spirit there the entire time. His family was so grateful and loved every minute they got to spend with us.

Once we got back from the city after Fire Island. I was only in the city for another eight days before I was running down 53rd Street to catch an Uber that was waiting for us to take us to Penn Station.

I still couldn’t believe it. We were going to Portugal!!!! Did either of us do any research on where we were staying or what we are supposed to see? NOPE. I’m not a planner nor is my friend. So, we both had zero clue as to what to see and do. Thankfully we had friends send us emails prior on where to go and what to see, so I did manage to print those out and read them on the plane but I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be enough.

We arrived in Lisbon in the morning and the weather was amazing. We got to our hotel that just so happened to be on the “Fifth Avenue” of Lisbon… Hotel Fontecruz Lisboa. We were greeted by water that was infused with fruit. Our room faced the street and it was stunning. We didn’t waste any time with walking around. Followed by a nap to get acclimated. We were refreshed and ready to see and do.
For the next few days in Lisbon, we did everything that a tourist is supposed to do there. We saw castles, churches (even took the sacrament) and our trip was turning more into a spiritual journey than anything else.

It was toward one of our last days in Lisbon when a simple Uber ride turned into something amazing. Our driver wanted to show us something special after we had finished another visit to another castle. My friend and I looked at each other and agreed to go along for the adventure. Our driver pulls up to this place called, Cabo da Roca. It’s along this cliff that overlooks the sea and there is a huge cross. My friend and I just stood out looking into the sea, not saying a word, both wearing our sunglasses. A few minutes later we both realized that the other one was crying. My tears were for so many things. Tears of sadness, tears of loss, tears of gains and tears of happiness. It was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen in my entire life.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to Lisbon and we got into another Uber that was taking us to a part of Portugal called, Cascais. I had even less knowledge about this place that we were going to and it wasn’t until the driver pulled into our hotel that I realized that I didn’t deserve to be here. My friend booked a five star hotel and spa resort that overlooked the sea!!! What? Who? When? How? Those were all my questions to my friend, as people rushed to our car to open our doors and take our luggage. We stayed at, Hotel Cascais Miragem.

For the next several days, all we did was swim in a pool that overlooked the sea, worked out, had spa treatments and ate at nice restaurants. We were at this hotel during my birthday. As the emails, phone calls and text messages began to flow in, everyone kept asking me how the trip was going. I kept telling them how stunning everything was from start to finish. Every single response back was, “You deserve this.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this because I don’t think I deserve anything. Much less living the way I was living in Lisbon. All I knew was that I was lucky to have been with a friend that is very special to me. To have seen the amazing things that I’ve seen and that I have such an amazing support system that feels that I “deserve” this sort of trip.

It’s always bittersweet when you end a vacation. You know it’s time to come back home, get back to your routine and live the normal life that you had before you left. But this trip really got under my skin. Maybe it was because of the year that I’ve had so far with its intense up and downs. Or maybe it was simply because Lisbon is an amazing place to visit. Or maybe. Just maybe…I deserve it?

I’m still not confident to feel that I’m a person that deserves anything but I am confident enough now to know that everyone deserves a vacation every now and again. To recharge those batteries. To spend time with loved ones against a beautiful backdrop or simply to find yourself again after you’ve been lost for so long.

Merecer. Deserve.

Poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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