Saudade

My priest and I have decided to move many times in our lives together. We started off in Toronto in 1998 and have since moved to three countries and eight cities. Each move is decided by us. People often think we are moved by the Church or by my priest’s job…nope…we move because we like change. We enjoy discovering new places and making new friends. We love finding a new restaurant that when we leave we will miss desperately. I can think of a restaurant in Corfu, Greece that I long for and a milkshake place in Annapolis, Maryland that I consider the best. We miss things and people in every place that we have lived, but we also love the adventure of discovering new favorites.

When we had children, we just considered them a part of our team—a traveling team. We tried to make every move seem exciting; a new beginning and a chance to explore. Maggie used to envy kids and adults she met who lived their whole lives in the same town or same house. This used to make me sad because I never wanted that for me or her. She has since changed her tune. Maggie now loves living in different places and gets great joy from having friends all over the world. She is frequently FaceTiming a friend in Belgium, another friend in Barcelona and texting a friend in Augusta, Georgia. She says she loves being international. We are soon moving to South Carolina for her to start high school and when we told her she would start and finish high school there she was genuinely baffled. She said “why?” We thought the why was obvious, so she could be in the same place and not have to change schools and she cried. She cried because she said she loves our life. She loves the change and the excitement. I cried because I was so thankful that we hadn’t fully screwed her up by moving her so frequently!

Pippa doesn’t remember all of the moves. She has spent nearly half her life living in Europe. She is REALLY European. This is her home. She told me yesterday that she will miss walking to the grocery store daily to get fresh bread. She will miss her breakfast of a pão de leite. She will miss greeting people with two kisses. She asked me if she can continue to greet people with kisses because “it seems right and when we see people and just say hi, it seems rude.” Pippa is young, but she knows what she wants. She said she will raise her family in Europe so they can enjoy all the gifts the continent has given us…she quoted the pasta, pizza, waffles and fries. She fell in love with flamenco in Spain, the wooden clogs in Holland and the schnitzel in Austria. She embraces it all.

We have all gotten used to saying goodbye. We all cry…a lot. We spend a few weeks trying to squeeze in the stuff we love. We squeeze in a few more visits and a few more meals. Portugal is the hardest place for me to leave, so far. It is magical. The ocean, the mountains, the cork trees, the tile, the palaces, the hiking trails and a wonderful community. We have been adopted by a whole community of really genuine and lovely people.

I couldn’t even begin to list the things I will miss about Cascais, Lisbon and Sintra…the list would be never ending. It has enchanted me and I know we will return. That is the beauty of moving, you always have a place to go back to and to long for…saudade.

Saudade is a non-translatable Portuguese word that basically means a deep longing or nostalgia for the past. It is much more than that, it is a feeling that cannot really be expressed accurately with words. I will have great saudade for this country. I will have saudade for the pink sunsets and the fog over the mountains. I will have saudade for the sand dunes and my favorite walk through Quinta do Pisão. Saying goodbye is never easy, but when you feel sad to do it, you know you have lived well and loved. You know that your heart has been imprinted by a place and people and that never changes.

I look forward to a new adventure and I feel confident that the kids will love their school and make more friends. It really is just saying goodbye and getting on that plane that is never easy.

Obrigada Portugal por tudo.

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