A Tale of Two Cities

128In Portuguese, there is a word that cannot be translated to English: “Saudade”, which is the feeling of missing something that has already happened or someone you love. According to the dictionary, saudade is the “recollection of exciting feelings, experiences, places or events. It brings sad and happy feelings altogether, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.” As I get ready to leave Philadelphia for 6 months due to my PULSE assignment, there is no best way to describe the mixture of feelings going on in my mind than this specific word from my mother language.

I’ve always been drawn to nostalgia. It’s cheesy, I know, but as an openly declared nostalgic person, I’ve spent my last days in Philly walking around familiar streets of Philadelphia, visiting my most-beloved parks and eating at my favourite restaurants for one last time in 2016. Philly received me with opens arms three years ago, when I moved all the way from Brazil to the United States, and our relationship has since grown from a casual date to a long-term marriage. I’m super excited to go and live one of the most amazing experiences of my life – volunteering with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy in the Philippines –, but before I go, I decided to write my very-own Philly Greatest Hits. It’s a recollection of the Top 5 things and situations here experienced that I will hold dear to my heart as I travel to the Far East side of the world. Here it goes:

177#5. Thanksgiving 2013. All my American friends had gone home to visit their families, and I stayed in the city by myself enjoying long hours of Netflix binge-watching. On Sunday, after 3 days without speaking to a single human being, I passed by a small group of people whilst biking and heard them speak Portuguese. It was “now or never”, I thought. After a few sips of courage, I turned back and stopped the group to ask if they were Brazilians like me. Once they confirmed, I passed on my cell phone number and said: “please text me next time you guys go out. I’m new to the city and need new friends.” 1 year later, the two girls I met from that group became the closest thing I’ve ever had to big sisters (I’m an only child.)

#4. Winter 2014. My very first snowstorm, many “snow days” and my mom visiting me in the States for the first time.

#3. Summer 14-Spring 15. Hosted several get-togethers in my old apartment, this old, huge 1-bedroom place in South Philly. The best nights were those that started in my apartment and would end at the good old Dolphin Tavern, a South Philly gem.

130#2. Washington Square Park. My go-to place whenever I wanted some “me” time to think. Be it summer or winter, 12pm or 12am, if it was quietness I needed, I would grab my headphones, put on a movie soundtrack, and head to Washington Sq. Park.

#1. My Philadelphia family. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the people I have met, including a lifetime best friend. They made living here an extraordinary experience, and helped me never feel like going back to Rio. If Philadelphia is home, these people are the family I was fortunate to share my house with.

It’s good-bye time, I know,  and 6 months are not 6 days or 6 weeks – it’s half a year –, but it will be well worth it. I can’t wait to jump on that plane and start living my PULSE/ Philippines Greatest Hits, hopefully changing mine and other people’s lives. In the meantime, Philly & friends – I will see you soon. Please wait for me, for I shall be back next year! With love (& lots of saudades), Lucas.

“The city is my church, it wraps me in its blinding twilight.” M83 – Midnight City


  1. Amazing reflections, Lucas!! With a poetic soul, a
    wealth of experience, and a touch of nostalgia, you are more than ready to make your mark on your PULSE adventure. Please take with you all our love and the very best wishes from your PULSE family!

    1. Thanks, Vivian! I will miss you & the team very much while I’m away, but will do my best to keep in touch and bring you guys with me all the way to the Philippines.

  2. How wonderful to you hear your thoughts Lucas – I really get a sense of the meaning of ‘saudades’ through your reflections here. I got a real sense of the combination of sadness and joy, and nostalgia. I hope you’ll find a warm welcome in the Philippines too and that you’ll have many more saudades in 6 months time.

    1. Hi Sue! Fingers crossed for a great welcome in the Philippines! Thanks for all your help and wise words while coaching me and helping me arrive at this point of my journey to my PULSE assignment.

  3. Lucas, I couldn’t have explained it better! I am feeling a bit of “Saudade” at the moment myself. You will find yourself a network in the Philippines just as easy. You know and you’ve heard it before, the 6 months flies by! Enjoy every moment!

    One of my favorite memories is you preparing for one of your parties in your old apartment and me bringing in a bucket for you to mop your floor! I also love that you introduced me to Hawthorne’s…. has become one of my favorites now!

    I am so excited for you! Make us proud and…. Be the Change!!

    1. That bucket is still here! Let me know if you ever want it back =) And Hawthornes, yes! I will miss it so much. We def need to have a welcome home brunch once I come back to Philly next March.

  4. Lucas…all the best in this new “adventure”! You will be a great ambassador from PULSE Volunteer Program! We will be with you during this journey!! Un gran abrazo, Amanda.

    1. Muchas gracias, Amanda! =) You’ve been a part of this journey from the very beginning, so thanks for coming along all this way.

  5. Lucas – Awww this is the sweetest, most heart warming post I have read in days! I know you will make a million friends where ever you go..and will have so many moments to treasure from your PULSE time in the Phillipines. Keep writing & sharing these warm & fuzzy feelings, Best wishes, Manu.

  6. Great blog Lucas. I look forward to following your journey. I can’t wait to hear your very unique perspective after having prepped so many of us!! Cheers . . .

  7. I teared up reading this, Lucas! I absolutely loved reading this. I think it is wonderful that you are so nostalgic. It’s all a part of your charm! I look forward to following you on your adventure in the Philippines. Safe travels, my friend!!

  8. Wow Lucas – this post really touched me! I read it while listening to the Coldplay song you shared, “See you soon,” & together with your words, you left me with the full experience of “saudade.” Thank you for so honestly and powerfully conveying the depth of your feelings & thoughts about this life-changing PULSE experience you’re embarking on – because it IS a big deal! Philly & your Philly/ PULSE/ global family will surely miss you these next months, but we’ll be waiting with open arms when you return — and look forward to staying connected from afar as you build new family and new (saudade!) memories in the Philippines. Feeling excited for your upcoming adventure — & very grateful to be a witness to your journey too – keep sharing! Love, best wishes, & safe travels – be the change, my friend!

  9. Awesome Top 5 Lucas, look forward to following your Top 5 and beyond Philippine experiences. I might just have to visit the Dolphin Bar. (Learn to dive–you will expand your horizons and be changed by what you see underwater as well).

  10. Hey Lucus. Great blog. You’re a lovely engaging writer and I look forward to more of your posts as you step into your new adventure. A reflection from me is that you’ve built a strong network in Philly, but you did that from scratch. You adapted to your new environment and you will do the same in Philippines. Wishing you success on your assignment. Be the change. And enjoy.

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