I told my friend last night, while we were seated around the little tables on the patio at Roomba, that I would be “going home” today. We both stopped and he said, “You just called Brazil home.” And I nodded because I’d been thinking that same thing–how weird it was, and still how natural, for me to call that place my home.
When I was in Brazil and telling my mom I couldn’t wait to go “home,” I meant New Haven, which is strange because while I was here I never felt comfortable. But home, here in New Haven, is where Dennis is and where my friends are, and where I tell people I have been living for some time. So it has been a home.
And so now a new home is situated at the bottom of a cobble stone street called Joaquim Novaes and it’s close to new friends of mine and I am excited to see them again. This time it is easier for me to pack up my things and take them nine thousand miles away because I know where I’m headed. I don’t feel the nervous jitters, nor the tugging at my heart like I did last time when I left Dennis; I can see where I am going in my mind and I am feeling happy to go back. I am taking with me the things that will help me make my home there feel more like “home” in the New Haven or the Vermont sense of the word. (I would like to take the people who have helped me make my homes, but…) So I have packed my own pillows, my bathrobe, maple syrup that my mom brought down for me when she came to visit, peanut butter (because there’s no such thing in Campinas). I bought a feather bed to put on top of my mattress so I can snuggle up in it for the long haul. I’m going down there for good, for a really long time and actually…I feel really good about it.
I am eager to see my kids again. Before I left, I was telling my 7th graders about “my kids” up here in New Haven. One girl piped up, “Are they still ‘your kids’?” And I said, “Of course. They will always be my kids.” I got to see them all on Thursday. I stopped by at school and was literally bombarded by a mass of bodies. One of my advisees literally ran out of his classroom, scooped me up, and ran me down the hallway like I was a football. Others called out from their classrooms, “Miss Coggio!” at the tops of their lungs. It felt so good to be around them and to see them again and to see how they’d changed over the summer. I asked about certain kids–where they’d gone, if they’d come back–and got to hear about the new babies of the girls who were pregnant over the school year. Seeing my kids made me feel sad a little, knowing this would be a year without them and without being able to struggle through their growing up with them. But at the same time, down in Brazil, the only struggle I am really faced with is my own in trying to adapt to a new culture. I think I am just happy to finally have time to deal with my own self rather than trying to juggle everyone at the same time.
Stopping by my old school to visit also reinforced my decision to leave this year. I know I have done the right thing by leaving now. Not that I don’t want to be a part of New Haven Academy; I do. I will always be a part of it, and it’ll always be the place where I started, the place that got me here. (And by the way, New Haven Academy is one of the best schools in the district, according to the CAPT results. Their reading and writing scores from last year went through the roof, doubling or tripling the scores of other schools in the city. I am so proud of those kids, so proud of the school, and it feels good to know I was a part of that.) Now is a good time to get going, though. Now is always a good time to get going. (I have other news about teaching in New Haven, but I will wait until my blood stops boiling about it to sit down and compose something that doesn’t offend too many people. Vengeance will be mine. And Dave Herndon’s, my good friend and colleague.)
So folks, I’m off. A few words before my 7:20 Bradley departure. I need to shower, pack up my last load of laundry, get in some quick phone calls, grab a few kisses, then take off. It has been a good week. I got to see my mom, spend time with my friends, take things slow, eat hot dogs, fall asleep to TV programs I could understand, all the while realizing I’d be here for only a little while. I am excited to go back home, to my place in Brazil. I am eager to see my kids, eager to see my friends, to begin my language classes with renewed vigor. I feel good. How can I not?
Beijos all around.