Saudades is the unique Brazilian word for the blues/that-ache-when-you-miss-something.
When you’re away from home for a while there are many things that you miss, of course (I’m looking at you, mac’n’cheese). I’ve also been caught by surprise by a few things that I didn’t realize that I missed until I got home and stumbled over them again.
Some of my surprise saudades:
- The scent of Maine woods. Pine needles and moss, dampness and cool, clean air. Heady stuff and nothing else compares.
- Nacho chips and salsa. These days they’re standard at American parties. Before leaving I was so bored with them that I’d usually skip over them in the buffet line. I’ve seen nacho chips on the store shelves in Brazil. Meh. Then I come home and actually eat one and realize I can’t stop. Where have you been all my life?
- Natural food stores. I am a child of the co-ops. What is it about the spicy, earthy smell of these places that pulls at my heartstrings? Just give me some dried herbs in a bulk bin display and I’m in heaven. I don’t usually buy much, I just wander the aisles all misty-eyed and nostalgic.
- Autumn leaves. My whole life I’ve watched tourists arrive by bus/boatload to see the changing of the seasons, and each time my reaction was “Hum… y’all are cute…but you paid for a tour? Crazy.” I’ve admired the golden hallways of the sugar maples along the fence rows, of course, who hasn’t? But gaga over the fall color? Homesick for them? Nope, I thought I had my fill. That is, until I climbed in a kayak and glided past the mossy green swamp plants and red sumac and rusty oaks that lined the shores. So gorgeous that suddenly my heart ached like a lovesick teenager and I had to remind myself to breathe. How does nature do this? Color all over the place, rainbows of golds and greens and reds, sometimes even on the same tree! Yellows and oranges so vivid it looks like a crayon box exploded! Magic. I have to control myself to not stop the car every ten minutes to take a photo. Yes, I’ve become a leaf-peeping tourist.
- Public television & radio news coverage. Morning Edition and All Things Considered–their radio theme songs bracketed my childhood mornings and evenings. Watching the PBS NewsHour was the evening family event. How many of you remember when it was the McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour? I feel those two old newsmen were like uncles; they spent that much time in our living room. How reassuring it is to have calm, comprehensive coverage. How I love their take on the world. How I love the places in the world they take me. I didn’t realize that I had been missing these old friends until I saw them again.
- Black Sharpies. I have always loved Sharpies. I often write my poetry in artist’s black books on thick paper and in bright fine-point Sharpie colors. But I forgot the pleasure of the thick, black line laid down by your classic Sharpie marker. It calls up memories of Picture Pages and all other sorts of simple childhood joy. My mom might have to watch out for me writing on the walls…
Fellow travellers–What sort of things are reminiscent of home for you? That you didn’t realize that you missed them terribly until they were back by your side?