Missing…And Nothing More

A translation of my previous post in Portuguese:


A very special word for me.  Because I can’t say this word in English.  And because it reminds me of Pablo, Portuguese, and the people of Salvador.

In English, I would say that saudades means that I am feeling the lack of something.  But, it is more than this.  When I say “saudades”, I am recognizing the difference that exists without something.  But also, I am remembering.  I am remembering what makes this difference.  That is to say, when I am missing something, I not only have the lack, but also, the memory.  This is the beauty of the word.  The beauty of it’s meaning.

That’s why it is not so terrible to be missing my Brazil.  My experience there.  Of course, when I am dying of cold in the middle of the snow and ice here in Detroit, I am feeling the lack of the heat and of the eternal sun of Salvador.  However, I warm-up as I remember my time spent sprawled on the brown beach beside the sea.

When I remember more, my heart fills full of the happiness of the kids in the community project Siloé, where I taught English and where I was taught in the slang that is the true language of Salvador.

I arrived here two weeks ago, and I already I miss so much the people, places, and other things that I got to know during my time in Brazil.  Therefore, it is impossible to list off everything for you.  But I am going to start and continue each time that I feel the need to share more of the differences and memories that connect my experiences that make up life.

Thus, to start:

I miss my host mom, Aurea, such a caring and beautiful woman.

I miss the three bananas, two guavas, and one papaya that I ate every day.

I thought that I would never say this, but, I miss rice and beans.

I miss the community of IBAM (Metropolitan Baptist Church) and the hugs there.

I miss EBEC, the English school, where the CIEE study abroad program was located.

I miss the smile of Pericles, the doorman at EBEC.

I miss the way in which Pericles always would say: “It is such a delight!” about everything in Salvador.


Saudades…e Nada Mais


Uma palavra muito especial para mim.  Porque não posso falar essa palavra em inglês.  E porque me faz lembrar de Pablo, português, e o povo de Salvador.

Em inglês, eu falaria que saudades significa que estou sentindo a falta de alguma coisa.  Mas, é mais do que isso.  Quando digo “saudades”, estou reconhecendo a diferença que existe sem alguma coisa.  Mas também, estou lembrando.  Estou lembrando o que faz essa diferença.  Quer dizer, quando estou com saudades, não só estou com a falta, mas também, com a lembrança.  Isso é a beleza da palavra.  A beleza do sentido.

Por isso, não é tão chato ficar com saudades do meu Brasil.  Da minha experiência lá.  Claro enquanto estou morrendo de frio no meio da neve e gelo aqui em Detroit, estou sentindo a falta do calor e do sol eterno de Salvador.  Porém, estou esquecendo enquanto me lembrar meu tempo passado deitada na areia bronzeada ao lado do mar.

Quando me lembro mais, meu coração enchee até ele fica cheio da felicidade das crianças no projeto de Siloé, onde eu ensinava inglês e estava ensinada na gíria que faz a língua verdadeira de Salvador.

Faz um mês que cheguei aqui, e estou com um morro de saudades das pessoas, lugares, e outras coisas que conheci durante meu tempo no Brasil.  Portanto, é impossível contar a lista inteira para você.  Mas vou começar e continuar cada vez que sinto a necessidade de compartilhar mais das diferenças e lembranças que ligam minhas experiências que faz a vida.

Então, pra começar:

Saudades da minha mãe, Áurea, uma mulher tão linda e carinhosa.

Saudades das três bananas, duas goiabas, e um mamão que comia cada dia.

Achei que nunca falaria isso, mas, saudades de arroz e feijão.

Saudades da comunidade de IBAM (Igreja Batista Metropolitana) e os abraços lá.

Saudades de EBEC, a escola de inglês, onde fica o escritório do programa de CIEE.

Saudades do sorriso de Pericles, o porteiro de EBEC.

Saudades do jeito em que Pericles sempre falaria: “É uma delícia!” sobre todas as coisas de Salvador.

She Tells of Tree Tales

My friend Amanda tells me that the trees in Campo Grande talk to her.

She’s gotten to know them after many morning laps around the central city square in her matching spandex jogging suit that every baiana somehow squeezes into, their bodies painted in floral print that makes my fashion-forward friends want to puke.

I contemplated buying one for myself, but when I shared this thought, my other friends laughed so hard that I quickly stuffed the dream back inside myself before they found out that I was serious.

Amanda doesn’t care though.  She has a jeito all of her own—her ‘fro bobbing back and forth as she weaves beneath the trees, listening as they whisper wonders.

The big old giant on the corner always grumbles over secret sprinkles as his roots sit above the ground in separate sections, conveniently forming stalls that stand firm in the well-fertilized dark-brown dirt.

Peeing in public is nothing to blush over even in the middle of a bustling day downtown.  My friend once saw a weary walker sitting near a puddle in the square.  It wasn’t until she passed by that she perceived the puddle to be promptly pullulating, nourished by the trickle dribbling down the woman’s floral-printed pant-leg.

The tall, willowy tamarind tends to bemoan the boys and their white kite strings that slice through the sky only to snag themselves in her tresses, tangling their tails in the labyrinth of her swinging vines.

I once saw a boy flying a kite in the middle of a busy main street, dancing along while flapping his flimsy piece of plastic.  The two of them were dodging in and out of disinterested traffic until suddenly the string snagged straight onto the front of a passing car, whose arrested antenna arched back, bending beneath the tension created by the fierce grasp of the boy on the other end, who sprinted, shrieking behind the automobile, determined not to the lose the tug-of-war.

The branches of the muttering mangoes mask the mugs of their macaco (monkey) members who meekly manifest themselves upon presentation of palatable provisions.  Their wisely whiskered faces win the hearts of all American estrangeiros sick of simply seeing squirrels skirt the sidewalk saplings.

Perhaps Amanda tells the truth about the treasures of the trees that are found just by listening to the language of their leaves.


Check out these fantastic fotos of trees that my mom forwarded to me.  I especially like the image of the Jabuticaba, a Brasilian tree whose fruit grows directly on the trunk and branches.

Uma Semana Já

It’s been an interesting transition back to the United States.  Not only the present, but the past seems so foreign to me.

The Lydia I am now doesn’t seem to fit into this frosted world of frumpy coats and boots and frozen smiles.  When I click through old photographs, it is difficult to recognize the middle child of my family, to place myself in her unguarded eyes.  As the daughter of two missionary kids, I’ve heard the basics of Reverse Cultural Shock 101.  I knew that I was going to feel like an alien.  I just didn’t realize the extent to which I would feel unfamiliar unto myself.

Dad said I can’t just forget the old me.  I need to accept the chubby middle-schooler, the too-nice, naively people-pleasing high-schooler, the chubbier college freshman, the save-the-world, Spanish-speaking, orphan-hugging sophomore, and the invisible, love-sick, hidden hermit junior as all part of what’s shaped the present me.

So, instead of deleting the rest of all my unflattering old Facebook photos, I deactivated my account (again).  I decided that it’s all I can do to keep up with my face-to-face friends without trying to include past pages in the present chapter of my book.  Seriously, though, people.  There is always email.

In a rare moment of isolation and inspiration amidst the almost-Christmas bustle, I managed to pen this poem to express how quickly time and transitions can run away from you.

Uma semana já
Passou sem parar
Passou sem me permitir
Tempo pra pensar
Uma semana já
Passou sem parar
Passou sem mim ver
O sol nem céu azul
Uma semana já
Passou sem parar
Passou sem mim conversar
Na língua que me apaixonou
Uma semana já
Passou sem parar
Passou sem mim sentir
O rítmo do mar
Uma semana já
Passou sem parar
Passou sem mim andar
Nas ruas do meu coração

Creative Translation:

One week already
Passed by without stopping
Passed by without allowing me
Time to think
One week already
Passed by without stopping
Passed by without me seeing
The sun nor the blue sky
One week already
Passed by without stopping
Passed by without me talking
In the language that I’ve learned to love
One week already
Passed by without stopping
Passed by without me feeling
The rhythm of the sea
One week already
Passed by without stopping
Passed by without me walking
Through the streets of my heart