29 October 2012

Am I Homesick? Or Am I Home?

"Close your eyes and tap your heels together three times,
And think to yourself, There's no place like home,
There's no place like home . . ."

It was recently suggested to me that I'm homesick. I really sat back in my chair when I heard that, because I thought that lately I had been feeling profoundly at home in Brazil. But I was gently told that some of my recent blogs were getting a bit — well, perhaps a bit critical of Brazil. Hmmm. Was I really beginning to pick a fight with my chosen country of residence, with its habits, with its culture and customs? If so, is that a symptom of homesickness? As I mulled over this idea, I ran the above video clip in my head, with Dorothy chanting her famous ticket-out-of-Oz-and-back-to-Kansas. Then I heard voices singing, "Mid pleasures and palaces, Though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, There's no place like home,"(1) complete with a plaintive, background violin. Then suddenly Perry Como popped into the video of my mind, singing about how there's no place like home for the holidays, no matter how far away you roam.(2) Well, I've certainly had this idea of "home, sweet home" fixed in my head since childhood, whether by the movies, or literature, or songs, or quotes and, of course, those omnipresent samplers hanging on walls.

But what is home, exactly? Is it the place where you were born and/or raised, the place you always long to return to if you were ever so foolish as to have left it? Is it the place where, "When you have to go there, they have to take you in?"(3) Or, as the free-and-easy people say, is it any place you hang your hat?(4) A friend of ours once said that for her, home is where the dogs are. I always liked that, I felt I understood her. But I'm an old-fashioned kind of gal, so for me, home is where the heart is. That means home is where my husband is, and I never thought of myself as anything but at home here, in Búzios, with Mark.

No, I don't think I'm homesick, not in the nostalgic way, the nostalgia of saudades that my friend might have meant. I think I'm very much at home in two countries, even as I am very much a foreigner in two countries. That might be confusing, but it's also what adds zest to my life. I do feel that ten years here — paying taxes, getting involved in the community, dealing with all the small things that need dealing with every day — has earned me the right to be a little critical. Let's face it, I wouldn't be a true New Yorker if I didn't rant a bit. Just know that if I do rant, though, I rant out of love.

(1) Home, Sweet Home, music by Sir Henry Bishop, lyrics by John Howard Payne
(2) (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays, music by Robert Allen, lyrics by Al Stillman
(3) The Death of the Hired Man, by Robert Frost
(4) Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer

1 comment:

  1. Hi again!

    Your blog posts on Brazil are getting a bit critical? That can only mean that you are a Brazilian indeed! As Larry Rotter says, Brazilians are the most implacable critics of their country. The more you criticize Brazil, the more Brazilian you are.

    Since we are on homeland, here is a great debate on the matter -


    By the way, have you ever thought about keeping a notebook with every youtube video you watch, just like you do with your movies? :-D