9 times out of 10 when I talk to my parents, they ask me if I miss New York or if want to come home. When I called my mom for Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, she waved some banan peze and griot in front of the screen (typical Haitian dishes) and asked if I wanted some. My Dad always plays dumb and asks when I am coming back home. (For the record, I am coming back the week of Thanksgiving…Couldn’t miss out on the FOOD!) Every time they pose me that question, I always offer the same response. “No, I’m not homesick. I definitely miss things about my life back home, but I’m enjoying my time here in Brazil.” That answer does not satisfy them so they pry even further. “I bet you don’t even miss us.” Ahh, here is the question they were dying to ask. My sisters and I always joke that growing up in the Haitian School of Hard Knocks, we never fully expressed ourselves among other things. We never said, “I love you” on our way out the door. “I love you” after a phone call. “I miss you” after not seeing one another for a long period of time. It’s just something we never did growing up. I don’t know if it’s the culture, my family particularly, or just something we got used to, we just never expressed ourselves. I used to complain to my Mom that my other friend’s parents would always say “I love you” or whatever and my mom would always reply: “I don’t need to tell you. Don’t you know all of the sacrifices I already made for you?!! That in itself tells you how much I love you.” I have friend who always says, “What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained.” Without a doubt, that mantra was made for my mom.
There is a Brazilian phrase that people use when they miss something or someone profoundly or they are simply reminiscing. Eu tenho muitos saudades. Here is the definition according to Wikipedia (don’t act like you don’t use wikipedia to find the answers to your burning questions.) This past weekend, I celebrated my 23rd birthday and I am so blessed and happy to see another year. Needless to say, tive muitos saudades. I was missing my family but especially my friends. It was the first time I was celebrating my birthday away from people who I loved and meant the most to me. My dearest childhood friends (church, family and high school friends) and college friends…y’all know who you are, always make me feel special on my birthday. I must stray away from the Haitian School of Hard Knocks and express that this year was really hard. I didn’t think it would affect me so much, but it certainly did. One of my best friends, Sara normally calls or shoots me a text at midnight; my mom will ALWAYS start the call by singing Happy Birthday, and my Dad will always joke around and will he forgot how I old I am (Although sometimes, I think he actually isn’t joking.) My friends from Massachusetts did in fact call me around midnight… but the call dropped and subsequently failed. I was trying to send some pictures to my mom, but the messages were not getting anywhere; I wasn’t able to talk to my parents until the late evening, and I was not able to receive messages and emails until hours later when I was connected back to Wi-Fi. Despite the fact that I was sad…(so sad that I actually cried ***rolling eye emoji***) it was nice to know that even though I couldn’t respond back to calls, emails, and texts when I wanted to, I know that I am loved and I am lucky enough to have people who care about me. Wise words from my friend Olivia: “What’s understood, doesn’t need to be explained.” This year was a stark contrast from my 22nd birthday. Even though I was not physically with the people who year after year make my day special, it is amazing to know that they are always there for me.
I am grateful for the people who did make my birthday special here in Brazil. Many of my new Brazilian friends wanted to say Happy Birthday to me in person and give me hugs, presents and well wishes because they told me it didn’t feel right over Facebook. (Brazilians are an amazing group of people) and I am really happy that I was able to enjoy it in a beautiful beach town with my co-ETA and one of my co-workers. This time last year I would’ve never thought I’d be in Brazil, and living here has definitely put things in perspective. This time last year, I graduated from college, celebrated the christening of my favorite nephew, celebrated my birthday with college friends from both UMASS and St. Johns, (lost my phone because I partied too hard…STILL trying to figure out what happened though…) It doesn’t matter if you’re partying into the wee hours of the morning with your usual crew or if you’re with new people in a new place, I am blessed to see the ripe ol’ age of 23 and looking forward to many more years to come.
Here are some pictures from my weekend.