A year. It’s been a year now since I left everything I thought I knew behind me. A year that I decided to take that plane and cross the world, ignoring all the fear, the insecurity, the uncertainty that I had in my heart. A year that I said goodbye to the people I love, and, most importantly, a year that I said goodbye to myself.
Oh boy, was it hard. I cried myself to sleep so many times. I missed home. I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to do it. I had some really tough times. But I did it. And, the only reason why I did it, was because of all the people I had by my side during this year. I made so many friends, that are now all around this planet. I travelled the world, without even leaving the United States. I learned how to swear in Italian, how to dance in Norwegian, how to party like a Colombian, how to pronounce names in Swedish, how to flirt in Danish, how to speak -really broken- Spanish, and even a whole new dialect in my own language. I learned a little bit from all of you. I made memories that will always be with me. I laughed, I danced, I partied. I lived. And hey, look at us. We became a family. Is there anything more important than family? No, there isn’t.
We all made it. We were all scared kids that flew away from home, hoping to find another one, and well… We did. We overcame our fears and had an extraordinary year, with enough stories to tell for generations. And, wherever you are now, know that I will never, ever forget about you. I love you.
Life is so funny. A year ago, I had no idea who all of you were. No idea that you even existed. How could I know that way up north, in New Richmond, Wisconsin, USA, I would find a home? Because, I did. I found family. Found love. And, most importantly, I found myself. I always thought only love could break your heart. When I left New Richmond today, I realized a city can do that, too.
I will forever be grateful to those who truly welcomed me as part of their family, and gave me love and care as they would for their own child. I think I did a pretty good job telling you how much I appreciate it. But if I didn’t, let me say it again: I LOVE YOU. So much. You can’t even imagine. I love you like my own family. And my heart is in a million pieces because I had to say goodbye to you. Or, actually: see you later.
Friends, Rotary Club, and basically, everyone that I had the opportunity to meet: Thanks for keeping up with me this year and making it one for the movies. You will be in my heart and memories, forever. I hope we can meet again someday.
And, finally, thanks America! I had the time of my life. Thanks for having me here. Thanks for being open to new people, and new cultures. Hopefully it will continue that way. Because this is the only way we will find peace in our world. You will always be my second home. You have a bright future ahead, and you’re already great! I will miss you.
Guess I will never be completely at home again. Because part of my heart will always be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. But I would do it all again if I had the chance to.
I’ll see you all again soon, but, until that happens, take care, and most importantly, be really, really happy, because if you do so, I will as well, all the way on the other side of the world. And come visit, ok? Brazil is waiting for you, and so am I.
This is Madu De Luca sharing a personal story.