When I was a kid, I used to have a ridiculously wishful dream. I imagined a city where all the ones I loved and liked would live together in harmony. I don’t remember how I had worked it out, if everyone would keep their jobs and simply move their business to this new city, or if jobs weren’t needed at all because all we would do is hang out and have an amazing time together.
Today, at 22, I realize how unrealistic this thought is. It would obviously never happen and I often envy people who have lived in the same place their whole lives, knowing the same people, being the same person, growing in their own space for the duration of their existence. In the last ten years of my life I have migrated from place to place, and I can’t really say I know what planting your roots is really like. Even when I had lived in the same place for over ten years, I was far away from my grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins, people I really care about. Being far away was difficult, and little did I know it would be something I would struggle with my whole life.
This is not to say I am not fortunate for what I have got out of moving around so much, since I have met so many amazing people from relocating but I also get to miss them every day of my life. I will always be torn between homes, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, to have more than one home. I will be eternally divided, though.
I don’t know if other people who have moved a lot in their lives feel like this but I really struggle in finding a place for myself sometimes. Where do I actually belong? It’s confusing to belong to several places. This is why I identify with the word saudades so much lately; it’s a unique Brazilian word that can be loosely translated to melancholic nostalgia. And it can apply to anything, from a person to a moment or an era.
I think what gets me the most is that I miss certain eras of my life where I thought it was all together, that I was all right and that I belonged the most. I miss university in a way that is indescribable – after a couple of years of trying to belong, I actually did and it was wonderful. I miss Sheffield so much, I miss the independence and the carefree times I took for granted. Growing up is so hard, the pains are no myth – they are a harsh reality that can hit you with a blunder to the head if you don’t prepare for it.
And really, who does prepare for it? I certainly never did. I don’t know if I was very sheltered or naive – to be honest I was happy that way, so why dwell on it? – but today I am faced with difficulties I never knew I would face and I find myself dreaming of that city with all my loved ones once again. Not only that, but I hope for it too. That childish hope has remained somehow, and I wonder how on earth that could happen, as I am dealing with things I obviously never had to deal with when I was younger.
One of my favourite sayings in the world actually comes from the movie Vanilla Sky (I don’t care if you don’t like it, I DO!) and it states, quite simply: “The sweet is never as sweet without the sour” and I have never felt this to be as true as I do now. And I feel this is what saudade is really about: it’s such a bitter-sweet reality, missing some one or a moment, but at the same time being so glad that you met that person or that this event in particular happened. It hurts because it’s gone but enjoying the memory is still satisfying. The odd thing is, the moments I miss the most are the boring, day-to-day stuff we don’t pay too much attention to. I wonder why that is.
The unremarkable things, the silly things. Playing in the snow, feeling the warmth of the sun when the air is cold, waking up feeling like I’ve had a good sleep, walking to the shop and buying whatever I want for dinner, holding hands, casually chatting with house mates for hours instead of doing anything useful at all… These and many more are the things I loved the most about one era in particular in my life. But at the same time, I also missed my parents, my home and my home friends. Even if you’re happy, life will come with a few heartbreaks. As long as you accept it, it will be okay.
Pondering about these things is important to me, and I wanted to share it. Saudade is what I feel, and it’s such a complex feeling. I do wish you some of it though for it’s quite a nice thing to have inside your chest – but you won’t know it until you do. And if you “suffer” from it, I’d like to hear your story.
To those I ever left behind, even before university, I love you and miss you all. I am sure you have all taught me something that is worth keeping and I hope to see you again someday.
In the end, I just want to say if you’re struggling with something similar, going through big changes in your life – keep your head above water, it’ll be worth it in the end.
Photos from my personal archives, edited by me.