Four years ago my better half decided he needed a change. He was working for a very demanding company, and despite all the career opportunities they offered, he just felt like it wasn’t it. Instead of taking the next step up in the company’s ladder he started looking for jobs in an area he loved better: investments. He started applying for jobs and an opportunity rose for him to come to London.
Distance is always hard on a relationship, but Lisbon is not that far, and at the time you could get really cheap flights, so in the beginning we travelled back and forth a lot. But at some point we decided we couldn’t be apart anymore, and we set a date for me to move to London so we could live together – and so it was, that on September 15th 2012 I moved to London.
It’s a funny thing to leave your home. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. I guess it’s different to everyone, depending on the reasons that made you leave, but this is how it felt to me:
– I was happy to finally be able to rent a flat with my boyfriend (for the first time), I was excited about living in London and meeting new people. I was also slightly angry at my country as I had so many issues social security, the non-stopping bureaucracy and that ‘wise guy’ mentality (which I do not possess, I’m very much Belgian that way). I was excited for all the opportunities that I’d might get in London that I couldn’t envision for me in Lisbon at the time.
– At the same time I was devastated. I was sad to leave my beautiful city by the ocean. Sad to leave my family and friends. My friends mean the world to me. I am very fortunate to have met a lot of amazing people in my life and I am a very friendly person, but there’s only a small group of people in this world, other than the hubby, who know me to my core. And they’re in Lisbon (well, some of them have left the country too)… and my family, even though we always lived further away from grandparents and cousins, I am still very close with everyone, especially my sister. Leaving them was like leaving a bit of my soul behind.
I cried the whole flight, but as soon as I landed I decided I was going to make the most of it, I was going to be super happy, and I would stay in touch with my family and all my friends.
I was very welcomed in England. I was very lucky to get a job at the same company that I was working for in Portugal, so it didn’t felt that difficult. I was technically in the same team, just a different area, so I knew most of my colleagues already. And they were so welcoming – they taught me British expressions, about British food, British traditions, how it was to grow up in England, the whole accent issue, best places to visit, and most important how to party like the Brits. Oh and so much more, I am ever so thankful.
As it was the European headquarters, I also had the chance to meet people from all over the world. Not just ‘meet’. We created a small little family. Most of us came from different places and are all away from our families, so we just clicked. It wasn’t too long until I made friends.
And I met many and more wonderful people at that company who I am forever grateful to have met. And even though I left I am still in touch with most people and I see my friends quite often.
Regardless of how friendly and welcoming people are, and of how many friends you make, you never really stop thinking of your ‘soul friends’, ‘your people’. The ones that have known you for so long and with whom you shared so many adventures, that they’re part of who you are. You don’t forget your ‘home’ either, you miss your family and you miss the triviality of day-to-day life.
Every time you go back home you are rushing to see everyone, praying you can fit everyone you love into your schedule because you don’t know when you’ll see them again. Forget about those ‘I’m bored let’s go grab some coffee later’ or ‘want to come over tomorrow?’. Nah that doesn’t happen anymore; everything and everyone is scheduled into a very tight timetable. You lose the preciousness of banality.
And sometimes you’ll find yourself missing out on a party back in London because you’re home. You are happy to be home but then you also kind of wanted to be at the party. And vice-versa. So many times I am in London and I miss out on things happening back home.
With time you notice something funny happens: you don’t have a home anymore. You have two. And in my case I have three: Lisbon, London and Ostend. That translates into a bunch of people who I love unconditionally, scattered across three different countries, whom I am constantly missing. And an ever-expanding heart where I try to keep and cherish all these people.
We have a word in Portuguese that translates this feeling of constantly missing someone, it is Saudade. It is impossible to translate it, as it is such a poetic word engraved in our culture, but basically it refers to a deep emotional state of nostalgia, a melancholic longing, for someone or something you love who is missing. It is a mixed feeling of sadness for what is not there, and happiness for having experienced it. Yes I know it is complex.
But that is exactly how I feel all the time – an everlasting Saudade.