July 31

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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.

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