Confessions of a bad immigrant
The loneliness of this dead night gives me a perverse impulse to make Germans shiver:
I miss routinely hugging and kissing the cheek of every stranger I meet.
I miss touch being a routine thing not just among lovers.
I miss perfect strangers initiating conversations about what I'm reading, about my T-shirt, about the news or some football game I don't even care. I miss pretending I know the first thing about football, just to humour these strangers.
I miss perfect strangers telling me out of the blue, oh weren't you with a baby at shopping mall such-and-such last Saturday? Her dress was so cute.
I miss perfect strangers sensing sadness and telling me "have a beautiful day, a beautiful day".
I miss what would be like to travel in these 4-set train cabins where everybody face one another, if they were Brazilians, even thought we don't have trains like this and I never did that, but I miss what it would be like.
I miss, when I came back from my first trip to Japan, and I had to take two planes, and the first plane was full of Japanese people going somewhere, and the second full of Brazilians returning home, how much noisier was that second plane, its electricity, how full of life.
My poor country that so crushes its own people, the last slavers' colony to abolish it but it never did really, how early do we learn our first and greatest lesson, that life is made of suckers and cheaters and if you want to survive you better be the latter. We were calling ourselves a shithole centuries before that guy was even born. How terrified I am of ever being forced to return there, how violent it all makes us, to what extent we kill one another.
You can complain that we're noisy, cheating, dirty bastards with no respect for rules and order. That our country is a terrible, scary place full with death. And we'll be right there with you, bashing ourselves for the same reasons. But by the gods, none of you gringos will ever be able to tell us that we don't _live_.
I miss the manauara girl who approached me at the bus stop and in a matter of minutes was taking the bus with me to my room, because she liked how I did my nails, because she was attracted to me and it was mid-afternoon and why not? I never saw her again. I don't remember her name. I love her deeply.
I miss easy, zero-expectation hookups. Looking at a boy, smiling at one another, making out without saying a word.
I miss like three dozen sexual encounters of all kinds in every dark corner, and some not-so-dark corner, of that university. Lying down on grass with a stranger, with the peripheral awareness that other people were lying down together close by, in their own patches of grass.
I miss the college girl who was bored in classics class and out of the blue gave me a note that she thought my feet were pretty, and we hooked up for a couple weeks. I miss things like this being things that happen.
I miss "first-name basis" not being a thing, being the only way it is. I miss the way we took the T-V distinction from our colonizers (like German Sie/du) and happy crushed it under our uncaring feet, the way we put the "2nd" verb inflection on the "3rd" pronoun and use that rule-breaking combo for everything.
I miss everybody, everybody, people on streets, food vendors, teachers, friends of friends of friends, treating me with that kind of easy intimacy. The word you'll hear from Brazilian immigrants, again and again, the reason some of them give to go back despite everything, is "warmth". What Europeans, Americans, Japanese feel to be consideration, respect, goodwill, I feel as coldness. And Goddess, do I miss warmth.
re: Confessions of a bad immigrant
re: Confessions of a bad immigrant
@elilla as a german, i hear you.
in countries like these, you have to be incredibly lucky to encounter that genuine warmth, and i really miss it every day even if i’ve only ever experienced it on the campgrounds of open-air festivals. so many people i know go there not for the music or the excitement but just to take a break from the rules of this emotionally cold, sterile world.
i’ve felt this loneliness for my entire life. i wish we could live in simpler times, where people wouldn’t filter all their interactions through technology and overly restrictive social norms.
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