How can you call a place home, if you’ve never really lived there? Great question, my first day back in Brazil in 2017 got me thinking about the phenomenon of belonging to a place, despite never really having grown up there.
The Red Eye Flight
My morning started off in the spirit of adventure, accidentally forgetting my bra in the plane, and having to walk around São Paulo bra-less. Rewind, how does one accidentally just leave their bra on a plane? Here’s the simple truth: ya girl is not trying to suffocate her boozums on a ten hour flight, when the process of flying is already so uncomfortable. So in my attempt to get cozy on a cramped LATAM flight, I whipped my bra off, and placed it in my bag that got shoved deeply under my seat by the abuelita next to me while getting up for her third trip to the bathroom. My bag exited the plane with me, but somehow my bra stayed behind, probably clinging onto a life vest underneath seat 27H. All I’m saying is that’s going to be a story amongst the cleaning staff later, my bad.
Post flight and in typical red eye fashion, I run to the bathroom to wipe the thick black mascara crust that had formed under my eyes over night, isn’t traveling just the sexiest activity? Part of the culprit for the morning grog was that I’ve been playing no games on flights lately; I’m that person who shamelessly rocks an eye mask, neck pillow, and drapes blankets on myself that come up to my chin. The kind of set up where you can tell I’m really trying to pretend I’m not on a plane, 30,000 feet above the ground, and uneasy about it.
Home Sweet Home
It’s only 6 AM and I’m already feeling stranded. The good news is that because it’s my country, I’m able to feel at home even with discomfort.
They look like me, they speak my language, they even have mannerisms that I’ve somehow carried with me, despite never having grown up around my people. One of the mannerisms I’m definitely guilty of is being overly expressive about generic things, like talking up the fact there are options for both cold, and room temperature water when drinking from the airport water fountain.
While killing time in the airport, I start smiling with the feeling of familiarity that overcomes me. This is MY country, I was created here, my genetics are laced within the soil of the earth underneath me. It’s all profound, until I realize it’s 6:15 AM, I’m exhausted, and I’m aimlessly lugging my suitcase around, with no bra on.
Now the real adventure begins, hunting down functional WiFi in the airport to order an Uber to a location I don’t even know exists yet. That’s right, I made no plans, took zero screenshots, and planned on free ballin’ it (in more ways than one apparently). The only plan was that I had to meet Damon at some point to check-in to our Airbnb, around 3 PM.
Lucky for me, the GRU WiFi actually worked, unlucky for me, it was too early in the morning to actually find options for places to sit and wait for sleeping beauty Damon.
I bit the bullet and headed towards Vila Madalena, the neighborhood of our soon-to-be-home. Even taking São Paulo’s ridiculous traffic into account, I would still be pullin’ up on the scene about two hours before any coffee shops or restaurants even opened. God, I love how my people love to sleep in; another habit that I blame on my genetics.
7:45 AM rolls around and I’m whipping through the windy streets of Vila Madalena, admiring the street art, and buildings that are festively colored, just because. Bushy plants cascade down the façades of homes so carelessly, almost as if even the building had wild curls.
It’s clear to see that the character of the people are reflected on the streets; vibrant, rough around the edges, but happy nonetheless.
As expected, I exited the Uber (which feels more like a damn limousine service in Brazil), and the neighborhood is basically shut down at 8 AM.
With suitcase in hand and backpack on back, I start doing what any traveler would do – wander and take it all in.