The past few weeks, I’ve been going back and forth as to what to write about. This post is a little more personal than the last couple, but I’ve decided it reflects how I’m changing the most. It’s for that reason I’ve decided to put myself out there and discuss something I hate talking about most: feelings.
When I was younger, my parents and I clashed. Quite a lot. I was 10, friends with mostly older kids, and convinced I knew it all. You could argue not much has changed, but I’d say I’ve acquired something called “respect.” Between my teenage angst and my pure stubbornness, my relationship with my parents was a little strained. I remember being angry because we never saw eye to eye on anything. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t perceive things the way I did.
My relationship with my family was actually a major factor in my decision to attend boarding school. While I was at boarding school, especially in my last two years, I came to terms with the fact we will never agree entirely and I need to love and accept them for the people they are. This last summer, I spent more time with my parents than I have in a long time. And I’m very glad I did.
Now, bear with me. We’ll get back to this later.
The concept of family in Brazil is overwhelming. It’s something I wish I had known growing up.
As I’ve mentioned before, I spend a lot of time with my mãe. Recently, my pai and brother are home much more than they were in the first bit, so I’ve gotten to know them as well. I adore my family here.
My favorite moments tend to be with my host family.
My mãe owns a women’s clothes store. A few weeks ago, some of the clothes were featured in a fashion show. This meant the whole family attended to support my mãe.
In high school, it was a miracle if I wore anything besides black tights and a band t-shirt. Fashion is not for me. My host brother and I had a lot of fun trying to make sense of designers’ clothes, some of which I’m convinced were solely trying to make a social statement. I mean, that’s what art is, or can be, right?
Last weekend, my mãe and I laid out in the sun for a while listening to Brazilian music before attending a jazz festival that was going on downtown. We really didn’t do much, but I felt so content in this moment. I felt so alive in this moment. And I can’t really explain why. Everything in the world just felt exactly as it should be.
Most recently, my mãe and I went on a hike to overlook the city of Belo Horizonte. The hike was quite the adventure – walking straight up for some distance that I never figured out in the blazing sun.
On the way down, we made a mistake and took a wrong turn so we ended up at the bottom of the wrong side of the mountain. The area we ended up in was a little sketchy. This freaked mãe out, so she took off running up the mountain, shouting “run Hannah run!” I have a bad habit of laughing at moments I shouldn’t be laughing, but when I saw her running up the mountain, with her “nossa senhora’s,” I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t run after her. It was too funny to me. If you ask me about this moment, I’ll just start laughing. It’s been one of my favorite moments thus far and I can’t really explain why.
Mãe running away. Mãe’s religious devotion. Mãe’s political opinions. Mãe’s hair!!!
Pai drinking a beer at a jazz festival. Pai’s jokes. Pai’s fear of riding a bike down a steep mountain.
Almost everything they do reminds me of my parents. Yes, you, Tray and Steve.
These people aren’t my real parents, but they treat me like a daughter. They care for me like a daughter. They ask about my happiness and how my day was and where I’m going and even if they leave me home for an hour or two, they send me messages to check on me. It’s not just the fact they’re responsible for me. They genuinely care. They go out of their way to do things for me.
If my mãe and pai care so much for me in just three weeks, I can’t imagine the love my parents have for me. Tray, Steve, I’m so grateful for the equally ridiculous moments we’ve shared. I am so grateful for your unconditional love and sacrifice and concern. I am so grateful to have you both in my life.
I can’t believe it took 18 years and a life across the world for me to fully realize this.