Sunday, July 20, 2014

I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello - São Paulo

Warning: Sentimental post. All ITA graduates and sang-froids may want to give this one a pass.

I hate goodbyes. Even "so longs" are tough. I do my very best to avoid them and carefully did not arrange any goodbye parties here (though I did get surprised by one, and arranged a second small dinner with the "Fab 5"--don't ask).

I'm on my way back home--twenty-five years after leaving New England, I am heading back. My new blog is live and should be in action shortly--it's all about finding out that repatriation is harder than ex-patriation. Or so everyone tells me.

I think I have explained in other blog posts that I am not leaving Brazil, but rather going to the USA. Why am I going? Not because of security worries, exchange rate problems or even the absolute horror of the thought of four more years of Dilma Rousseff. No. I am going for my kids. My kids are half-Brazilian and half-American. They are seven years old. We have lived here six years which means they have no idea what it means to be American. They can sing the Brazilian anthem; they don't know one word of the American. I want them to ride a yellow bus; I want them to be in public school. I want them to know that the USA is more than a Target store and Disney World.

By no means do I think that the US is all right about everything and everything is better there. No, there are many things I will miss about Brazil and the recent days have made that conviction even more acute. The absolute warmth, humor and generosity of Brazil--as a country and as a people, well, they are unparalleled. I will truly, madly, deeply miss a number of friends here and their capability to make me laugh until I cry. I can only hope that we can carry the humor and love through skype and emails. We must. We have to.

The Alemão

This weekend we said goodbye to the Casa do Alemão, the German house, that we have rented for the last couple of years. It is the closest thing on Earth to paradise, in my opinion. If paradise has giant venomous spiders and cackling monkeys, that is (in the 7 year old twins' minds that is obvious). And though the leaving makes me sad, it also made me smile today.

The view from the Alemão. Which never changes.

As I walked through the remnants of a trail we had cut two years ago for the twins to find some pinhão (pine "berries" from the araucaria trees--kind of like chestnuts. Delicious), I realized that Brazil was already adjusting to our departure. In fact, almost nothing remained of our trail but the memories. The trees and bushes had grown up through everything. Even the monkeys had wiped out the remains--all the pinhão had been eaten and the husks left in a silent mockery. 

Life goes on. The Alemão will have new residents. The spiders, and hawks and monkeys and hummingbirds will have new admirers. The woods and trees have permanent protectors in our friends Rob and Pri. The house and its property will be there when we visit again in December. The trail will be gone, and our personal effects from the house, but the exquisite beauty will still be there.

The new generation: Zoe, age 1 and 1/2
Cafu, age 12
Life, and death, go on. On Friday we spread the ashes of our 14-year old labrador Caju in the ranch's beautiful lake. From whence he came.... Caju was a puppy at the fazenda when the fazenda was itself new to our friends. And as the wind ruffled the fur of his now-forlorn and decrepit best friend, 12-year-old German shepherd Cafu, three other young dogs raced by to chase the horses. And so it goes.

I will miss you, Brazil, but I realized this weekend that I leave you not. I am taking you with me. Every time I kiss a tight-lipped Yankee on the cheek to say hello, I take you with me. Every time I save a fuzzy spider that gives me the creeps, I take you with me. And every time I feel the warm wind blow (perhaps rare in Boston), you are with me. Shall we go?

That's all she wrote.

Closing the gate on this chapter.  

Or is it?



  1. Are your husband an ITA (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica) graduate? I am...