This post is part of the 2008 InWeDay challenge: What does “change” mean to you? How have things changed over the past year and what do you expect to change over the year to come?
Two years ago, I came to Brazil seeking a change of scenery and seeking a home. I had been living in New Haven, Connecticut, and before that, Providence, Rhode Island, and before that, Boston, Massachusetts, and before that…well, the list continues. I started in rural Vermont and kept changing locations until, when I found myself in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for an International School job fair, I landed a place outside the country. Brazil.
It was something I’d wanted to do for my whole life, ever since I saw pictures of Djbouti in a National Geographic magazine, one of the hundreds that lined a wall in our living room. As soon as I could, when I was 18, I left my state and went in search of a home elsewhere, with the constant dream of living and working overseas. When I came to Brazil, I knew it would be for at least two years and my first year was full of ups and downs. It wasn’t until my second year, this one, that the real change set in.
In the past year I have learned to slow down. I have learned to be calm and reflective. I have learned to say what I mean and mean what I say and I have learned that things will work out the way they should. I have learned that it is important to have close girlfriends, that while loving and living with my boyfriend is wonderful, nothing compares to the friendships I have with women my age. I have learned to not hold on so tightly to earthly things, that love is the thing that matters, that love is what will last forever. I have learned to breathe, deeply and with meaning. I have learned perspective and self-talk. I have learned happiness in the moment and to recognize that moments of happiness are fleeting only if I recognize them fleetingly. I have learned to bask in happiness, to appreciate it when it happens.
But the biggest change came in February when I realized I wanted to go home. Really wanted to go home. Not out of homesickness but because I knew where home was finally. Home is in the U.S. That’s my home. Living overseas and teaching in an American school, I have met lots of people who do not identify a place in the world that is theirs. They’ve moved around the world any number of times and when I talk about home, they look at me with awe that I could feel so strongly for a place. I love the U.S. I love my country and I love the people in it. We are far—FAR—from being a perfect country and I’ll be the first to admit it. We are FAR from being tolerant and peaceful and productive. But I love knowing that’s my home, that I make sense there. A year ago, I might have felt embarrassed saying that, I might have tried to pass it off that I thought so little of my country. But not now. In this year to come, the biggest change will be the love I feel for the U.S, the love I feel for myself and for my life having found my home at last and with the big hope the our new president will bring our country closer together.
There will be some other changes, ones I have no idea about or won’t expect. And when those changes happen, whether for the better or for the worse, I will be able to accept them. I’ve learned big lessons this year that will help me prepare for what’s ahead.
In the end I will be grateful for this time overseas. If I’d never come here, I’d never be going back home.