Barbara, São Paulo, Brazil
Barbara, 30, a concierge for a health firm, was our couchsurfer Jan’s housemate in São Paulo. Every time she walked in the room, she was full of smiles and a lively ‘Tudo bon?’. As we interviewed Barbara, both her and Jan were brought to tears at points, reminding us how poignant some of these questions can be.
Describe your perfect day.
It would be very simple. During the summertime, there is a particular time of day that is violet. It’s around sunset when the sky goes very slowly to pink. On my perfect day, it’d be warm and I’d go somewhere green to watch that violet time with a book and beer. Perfect.
If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
There is a photo of Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre and Che Guevara all together. I’d like to be at that table.
When were you happiest?
I come from a very simple family with very little money. We didn’t have a camera when I was growing up so I have no photos of my childhood. Three years ago, my mum surprised me with a photo of her holding me as a baby. My aunt had taken the photo when she got married, and my Mum didn’t find it until then. It’s my only photo of my childhood. Being given that was my happiest moment.
What’s the best lesson that life has taught you?
I moved here (to live with Jan) five months ago. Before that I lived with my family. When you live alone and away from family, it brings a lucidity that makes you reflect on who you are. But, within that, the family is always present; everything you learn with your family stays with you. It’s like you are a pastry that your family made, then individually you put the sprinkles on top.
What’s your greatest achievement?
Moving here. I didn’t grow up in a nice neighbourhood – it was ugly, poor and violent. I’m proud to have been able to leave.
What’s your greatest fear?
Finding out one day that I have chosen the wrong way – realising that I could have done something better.
What’s your greatest love?
Aside from my family, it is the arts. Sometimes I get so sad and then I read or listen to something and I’m happy again. I love the arts.
What characteristic do you most like in yourself and others?
In others, I admire humility. In myself, I like that I’m friendly.
What characteristic do you dislike in yourself and others?
In others, I dislike vanity. In myself, I don’t like that I don’t always feel able to give my opinion, apart from with close friends. People can be violent so it’s a way to protect myself, but I don’t like it.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to go inside other people’s minds to be able to think like them.