I’ve come to call a few different places “home” in the past few years. The town where I was an exchange student for a year. The town where I go to school. The city I moved to for an internship. My sister’s place in London. The vacation spot in Rio.
People always ask me if I don’t miss home. But I’m never really homesick. I’m always home.
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to see different states and countries; California, Arizona, Colorado; Mexico, England, Ireland, Italy, and many others; and sitting here and editing pictures I took from the many cool things I got to see, I realized that as cliche as it sounds every one of those places made me who I am right now, in this second. All the people I talked to, all the new cultures I was exposed to, all the new foods I tried. And out of all those experiences, it’s exactly the people there that make me feel at home.
I’ve never been one to enjoy small talk and I thought that made me antisocial; it seems like with social media these days it’s impossible to not connect with people one way or another, even if it’s just a like on their Instagram. But traveling across the world made me realize it’s not that simple. I really don’t enjoy small talk – I do enjoy actual conversation and getting to know people on a deeper level, knowing their story and if they like coffee so I can ask them to go get one with me. I lost count of all the strangers I exchanged names with, all the random people in trains and ferries and planes that told me a story or offered me some of the chocolate they were eating. All over the news we read about the growing feeling of xenophobia across the world, we hear about the encouraged division of people and the hatred and the terrorism and the fear of the different, and yet I look back on my trips and smile at the thought of how much richer I am after going back even though the whole thing nearly drained my bank account. More than anything, I feel fortunate.
I used to read the news thoroughly every day, from economics to politics to weather and even some gossip, because I feel the need to be informed and realistic about the world we live in. More recently, I’ve simplified that to just the most important news and have quit opening articles with sensationalist titles, often aiming to separate people even further. I do not want to be kept inside that bubble where everyone is either evil or good. I was born in Brazil, I go to school in the United States and I traveled across Western Europe for a month and a half, and completely opposite to what I thought, all this exploring didn’t make me think I know so much more now; it taught me that there is so much I just don’t know and so much I haven’t seen. It made me feel small, tiny, but in a good way. Quoting Bono, “the more I see, the less I know”. The world is indeed a huge place, and its people define its places.
That is why I’m home everywhere I go. I find my home in the people I know and meet, the restaurants, the cultural norms, the happy feeling I get when I have memorized a new part of the local city map. And, of course, there is always the best part of every trip, long or short: coming back to my first home.
To me, Brazil will always sound like the sweetest word. Living far away makes you appreciate it that much more, and when my wings are tired of flying, and my feet ache and need to rest on the coffee table, I will find comfort in the fact that indeed I do have my own little corner of the world, right there by the Atlantic ocean and sitting as unmovable as it was when I was born twenty some years ago.