Dr. Martens: like a Fênix

We left Rio de Janeiro to travel to Belém, then to São Paulo, to Los Angeles, and to San Francisco. We thought that, together, we would go back to Rio within three months. We never did.

An unexpected sense of freedom extended our stay. San Francisco turned into a sanctuary, an ocean in an infinite state of intensity. Our new experiences, from a Bernal Hill first kiss to a camping trip to Big Sur, brought us deep feelings we could never imagine before. Each step taken was a new self-discovery. In 2014, we got lost looking for something we could not name. We fell in love with the rainbows from Castro street.

Oh, San Francisco! We didn’t know you would treat us so well. We challenged the capitalist systems that almost kept us away from the most important explorations of our lives. We challenged the people we left behind, our família, and our own belief system. We could not go back; we had to stay.

We learned English.
We learned that intimacy with a woman is what we have wanted the most.
We found our most valuable resource: therapy.
We went to our first gay pride parade.
We worked as an assistant producer for a short film.
We took placement tests.
We signed up for real college-level classes.
We took acting classes.
We were afraid of taking a risk bigger than ourselves.
We worked hard.

We learned about sexual health education, social psychology, neuroscience, and HIV prevention. We learned how intersectionality impacts the sex-gender system. We worked as a social media manager, sex educator, and English tutor. We read Anzaldúa, Lorde, hooks. We worked for a moving company, dog sitting, and tutoring a high school kid.

We faced the ups and downs of being an activist and dedicating our life and soul to a cause we believe in. We were called white, brown, you belong, you don’t belong. We were excluded when all we wanted was to fit right in. We felt alone around many people. We felt overwhelmed by ourselves.

We achieved the unachievable. We broke the unbreakable. We graduated from a community college as the commencement speaker of our graduation. We earned a full ride to an elite American college. We were homeless, jobless, feeling-less for a whole summer. We explored the complexities of our identities. We started to understand the injustices of this world from multiple perspectives, including one of experience.

We started a new life on the East Coast. Who would have thought we would end up in New England? After questioning all of the consequences of colonization and refusing to be part of the colonizer’s legacy, we ended up in the colonizer’s land. Church, church, church, church.

Hi, Massachusetts! Within all of your amazing opportunities, we felt lost. We struggled. We cried one, two, three, uncountable times. We were scared. We are still scared. We met a lover who made us believe in the most genuine feeling that can ever exist. We got to see the leaves turn: the fall season and all of its beauty. We went biking, we explored Western Massachusetts, and sometimes we forgot that we came from Rio. From Belém. We felt the snow.

We, my pair of white converse sneakers and I, crossed a milestone. We crossed the borders of the state, of love, sex, intellectuality, and intimacy. We found the transcendental. Three months turned into three years. We never went back. We don’t want to.

Is it a new era? Is it an end to a beginning? Is it a change of the seasons?

The rain takes away, refreshes, and cleans everything in the purest way.

It’s 2018 and my steps are still an exploration. A new one. A pair of black Dr. Martens: like a fênix.


Marcela Rodrigues is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar and a Neuroscience student at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts. As a sexual health educator and a human rights activist, she aims to combine science and social justice in order to create meaningful changes and a more just society to all.


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