english is my second first language/finding closeness in the distance


when i first moved to nj from portugal at the age of fourteen, i hardly spoke english

the only english i knew was the english that had been taught to me in school while in portugal

i said things like hoover instead of vacuum and although i was shy to speak the english language, i understood most of it and my reading and writing skills were enough to have me pass all the tests

it was a hard adjustment period

i missed portugal and everything/everyone i had left behind, i had no friends, the new kids were not the nicest, i ate many lunches outside by myself in the freezing cold, classes like science and history were nearly impossible, my own parents were strangers to me…

but, i hung in there

at the age of sixteen, my parents suggested we move back to portugal

i remember thinking to myself, wtf is wrong with these people? wtf are they trying to do to me?

by that time, i had finally pretty much mastered the english language (some will still argue with that), i had friends, i was close to getting my drivers license and i finally had the freedom i once had in portugal (believe it or not, moving from portugal to nj was quite the jail like sentence for a while)

most importantly, i finally felt like myself and that i had a life again

needless to say, the not so nice-bitchy (if you can believe it) teenage me strongly protested against us moving back to portugal

and so in the states we stayed and lived

in several states, not always together, not always happy, often times more like strangers rather than a family…

but in the same country we lived

then in the late nineties, not all together, not all at the same time, both my parents and brother returned to portugal

once again i chose to stay

since then, i have visited portugal almost every year

and every year it gets stranger and stranger for me to return

portugal is where all my family lives, it is where i grew up until i was a teen but it is not home to me

it is a place i had to put in a dark corner (along with many loved ones) in order to adapt and move on in a new country

it is a place where loved ones are no longer physically there but yet in my mind and heart they still exist, it is a place where the cousins i grew up with are now adults who i hardly know and who now have children of their own who i don’t know

it is a place where i feel like a foreigner and hardly even speak the same language anymore

that said, it is with this same distance that my mom, brother and i have found closeness

perhaps even more closeness than we ever had when we were physically together living as a family

living far away from family can have its benefits

when family acts like aholes (and we all know we have them and who they are), it is nice and convenient to be far

but for the most part it is hard

oh so hard

this past week, harder than ever

happy friday friends

hope you all have a wonderful weekend