I was going through my old notebook recently, and I found a written conversation from last September between a furniture store salesperson and me. I needed to buy a double bed because Matt’s parents were coming to visit us, and at that point, we didn’t have an extra bed for guests. I was still in the early stages of my Portuguese studies, so I dutifully looked up the words I would need before trekking down to Centro to find a furniture store. My brain learns written language faster than spoken language, so when the salesperson started telling me about the range of delivery options, we moved our conversation to my notebook. It was a fun little piece of memorabilia to find now, almost a year later.
How can we be eight months into 2019? The end of August already? A little nagging voice in my mind reminds me almost daily of all of the writing and blogging I haven’t done, the memories we’ve made that I haven’t captured in this space. When I was teaching in China, I wrote so prolifically, and I miss that headspace. I was more observant there and then, and I loved using my long commutes to mentally draft blog entries. What’s different here in Brazil? A lot. I’m taking care of two young kids who need and deserve my full attention, and I’m usually pretty beat after they go to bed. I’m in Brazil with my husband, who is my favorite person and who I want to spend my free time with. I’m also devoting significant time to learning Portuguese, which is something I did not do with Mandarin.
Another big difference is that we were fortunate enough to have many visitors during the first half of this year. For four of those six months, our calendar was something like two weeks on with guests, two weeks off with just us, two weeks on again, etc. It sounds exhausting on paper, but truly, it was mostly energizing. We were grateful- it’s difficult and expensive to get to Dourados, so we felt honored by anyone who could make the trip. For me, our visitors offered a link to home, a lesson in hosting and what it means to be a good guest, and a chance to push myself in Portuguese and in my skills as a guide to our corner of Brazil. Losing time to write was a pretty small sacrifice.
But now, all I can think about is time and how I wish we had more of it. The length of our stay in Brazil was always kind of amorphous because it depended on many factors related to Matt’s project that were out of our control. As of June, we were expecting to return to the United States sometime in early 2020, but then some important things with the project changed, and by July, we were suddenly grappling with the knowledge that Matt’s last day at the plant would be in mid-September.
We’re in kind of a weird place about it. We have so many reasons to be excited about returning to life in St. Paul. On a recent road trip, in fact, Matt and I started making a list. We are excited for easier access to international and vegetarian food. We miss our appliances, which are far superior to what we purchased for our house here. Making appointments, shopping, doctor’s visits, etc- it’s all easier when we can navigate these situations in English. We can’t wait to see our family and friends again. And of course, we’ll be reunited with our sweet girl, Vilas.
But there are many, many reasons to mourn the end of our time in Brazil. We’ve loved learning Portuguese. The kids’ school is less than a kilometer from our house, and we couldn’t have asked for a better, more welcoming place for our children to grow and learn. We adore our neighbors and our living space here. The climate is so lovely. Most difficult of all, we will be leaving behind such dear friends when we go.
But go we must. We fly out of Dourados in 24 days to be tourists for a few weeks in our adopted homeland. We’ll land at MSP on October 8th. Let’s see how many memories I can crank out on this blog before then.
Of course, this season of change doesn’t mean the end of our connection to Brazil, to Dourados, to our lives here. With open arms, I extend invitations to everyone in our Brazilian community. At our home in St. Paul, we already have an extra bed.