Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm often asked if I miss home.  I take that as being if I miss my country.  The two are separate for me.  I came into true adulthood in Rio de Janeiro.  My children were born here and are being raised here.  I found myself here. 

Do I miss home? I can't say that.  Rio de Janeiro is my home.  Do I miss the US being my home?  Maybe. 

What I do miss is not needing translation. I miss not having to explain myself, or not having the lack of words to describe a feeling or an event.  I miss having a conversation with someone who just gets what I mean.

You go through life saying everyone is the same. We are all just people. But we are a product of our nature. We take a little something from everywhere we've been. 

I miss some of the nature of where I've been.  It kills me that I don't share the same nature with my children.  I was not raised in the same place. My most cherished memories have nothing to do with theirs.  No matter how hard I try to bring my traditions in, and make our own family traditions, it's overshadowed by where we are.  There's not much you can do about that.  We do not move from place to place. We are not nomads like so many foreign families in Brazil. We are here. We have family here.  This is their childhood. 

It hit me when I had to explain to my 3 year old what a dandelion is. It was in a movie.  I had forgotten that memory. Seeing the seeds of the dandelion fly into the air. Making the wish.  Blowing as hard as I could so that every seed would fly and my wish would come true.  My son, growing up in a big city in Brazil, couldn't understand. All I could tell him was that I'd find him one when we go back and show him.  And I will, because it's magical. 

We don't want to say that where we are from makes a difference. We'd all like to believe we are self-made and decide what does and does not impact who we are. But there are things that stick.  I sometimes miss people with the same glue and the same dandelion seeds stuck to it.


  1. This post strikes a chord with me. And very poetically written I might add! I had a very typical American childhood, but my 2 year old daughter will have lived in 3 different countries by the time she's 3: Paris, Houston, Rio. This worries and saddens me because she and I will definitely not share similar childhood memories.

    Funny you mention dandelions because I was reading my girl a book the other day, and when I came across a dandelion, I took it for granted what it meant, as dandelions were a part of my childhood, too. She was fascinated with the dandelion because of the flying seeds, but unfortunately I fear that she will not know the meaning of a dandelion since the better part of her childhood will be spent in Rio.

    She has a glimpse of an American childhood right now in Houston, but she won't remember her life here. Her first memories will likely be in Rio, and unfortunately mommy won't understand what they mean. Pretty sad, actually, the more I think about it!

  2. Rachel,

    You should try the Jardim Botanico in Rio, I am sure you must find some dandelions there to show your kids first hand...

  3. And how about making bracelets and a necklace from the stems - putting the smaller end of one into the larger end of another... ah yes.

  4. Beautiful and thoughtful post. You're so right, there's a lot they will not experience living here. I guess we can only keep lists of what we want to share and try to accomplish those things when we go back home for visits. Lots of stuff! In fact, I go back next week and I'm putting dandelions on my list! That said, as I write this, in the tree outside of our living room window there is a group of micos monkeys being harrassed by a noisy flock of wild green parakeets...not gonna see this kind of thing in L.A.

  5. What you said about not being able to express yourself...that's something that always gets to me! It's so frustrating to only be able to respond to things in a very simple way, I think so much of my "family" here doesn't really know me or get me. I miss being able to use simple sarcasm to get a point across, can't do it here. I usually find myself reviewing conversations over and over again trying to find the words I SHOULD have used. Happens all of the time. This communication challenge and also that fact that I am pretty direct, I'm sure I am very misunderstood. How many years of living here and learning Portuguese will it take to become clever and eloquent? Will it ever happen?