Daniel e Sofia - Plataforma Media

Daniel e Sofia

In São João da Madeira, where I have never been, a friendly couple, Daniel and Sofia, cultivate a vegetable garden. They live in an old house. He’s a painter, she does comics. We’ve never met. We exchange postcards, images, sound clips, by mail and by phone. They live in times of uncertainty: with little money and after everything has been cancelled. This spring, I saw the turnips and potatoes planted and the ladybugs arrived in the backyard. Every once in a while, they’ll be sad and go days without telling us anything.


What will their faces be like? I know he’s tall and blond and she’s brunette, and she wears glasses. We only spoke on the phone once and his voice didn’t match his voice inside me. From Daniel, I know only the handwriting, the photographs and the drawings he sends us. From Sofia, even less: some books, blurry profiles, the trace of her drawings.


I wonder, when I think of these friends, whether the condition of being friends is not that we have never met face to face: if distance is not sometimes the condition of friendship. So many close friends are devastated, it almost seems punishment that understanding arises with those whose voice we rarely hear, whose hands we have never touched.

More than your imagined life, or your voice, which I barely know, I think of the roots of our friendship and whether this plant would survive if we lived close to each other


Daniel grows the vegetable garden and shares with me drawings of vegetables and fruits. They are green, blue, yellow, lilac lines, drawings made “in one breath”, tell me. I’m looking at the drawings and dreaming about them, their vegetable garden, their life. I’d like to see them, and at the same time, I never wanted to see them, how good it would be to have them around, soul mates of ours, and at the same time, how nice to have them away and know that in the distance they find time to think that maybe we’d like to know what they’re doing. Without ever seeing them, I miss our dinners and our lunches, which never happened. I’d like to get them back in my house, where they’ve never been, misses being up to the porch, spending hours and cigarettes never smoked, i don’t even know if they smoke.


Within my friends, now that they fear for the future, I see very little from a distance. Their cultivated vegetable garden comes to me as their ultimate hope: they cultivate it to survive, not to be entertained. Sometimes they tear up the drawings made over the weekend, like we tear up, maybe they won’t get out of bed for a few days, as we don’t. Then they wake up. They show us the photograph of a potato or the drawing of the branch of an onion; send us a text or the model of a book. Maybe my friends will put themselves in my shoes, too. What do they see from what little I show them? Just what do you think, as much as I know about them, or even less? We remember each other as we remember a dream after we woke up, not knowing well the ways we walked at night.

More than your imagined life, or your voice, which I barely know, I think of the roots of our friendship and whether that plant would survive if we lived close to each other. If we were close, we could share the bread and the water. So we can’t: sometimes their drawings are hopeless, or their silence too prolonged. I see your table, the pests that threaten the yard, the rain that doesn’t come, or that devastates everything. I feel like sending them a pot of food, or a blanket, or a cuddle. Or maybe they don’t need us, who knows? Maybe I’m the one who dreams that I could starve them, warm them up and get drunk together.


We didn’t know each other in time for life to have become distant, in time for our children, jobs, routine, age, to have gradually separated us and separated us from what we thought we were. They are friends who make themselves as if they make some drawings: without knowing how we made them, after we have done them, as if they had been made by someone else. One, two weeks pass, Daniel and Sofia’s garden changes every hour, or they don’t hear the phone, or we walk around crestfallen —and then they come back, as the ghosts return.


+Neither do we choose the people we understand, nor the time they come into our lives, and yet, without deserving of it, they live. I come to think that São João da Madeira does not exist and is the name of a dreamed place, that there was never a vegetable garden, neither Daniel nor Sofia nor ladybugs, nor turnips, not even drawings. And that the luck of us finding ourselves is really punishment for all the friends we haven’t ruled with.

*Writer

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