The hardest part about growing up as a first-generation kid who would spend her summers back in the "old country" was this constant feeling in my life of never really belonging. We were raised too European for the US and vice-versa. As a kid, it sucked.
As an adult, I love that I was raised with roots in both worlds. I'm thankful for that gift that my parents and grandparents gave me.
And, oh, what an incredible gift:
|The Dolmen da Orca, Oliveira do Conde (Carregal do Sal), Portugal. A 5500 year-old megalithic burial chamber|
|The other side of the Dolmen. A similar dolmen site closer to town is in ruins, but since this one is in the middle of nowhere, it survived|
|Reading by the wood stove on a cool October night (and yes, my parents have a modern stove, too)|
|The castle walls of the Convento de Cristo in Tomar|
There's a burden with having so much history and having these roots. It can be a weight, sometimes, knowing (and caring!) that you have to pass this history to the next generation. It's hard to maintain a connection to Portugal when you grow up outside of the Portuguese community-- no Portuguese school for me or my sisters, limited exposure to other Portuguese-American kids.
It's hard to put down roots here (a place that I love) when I have roots there, as well. I have hundreds of years of ancestors weighing on my shoulders.
And it's so hard to walk out of my bedroom on the last day of vacation.
But for every heart-wrenching moment of saying goodbye for the year to our home there and all of the saudades that I have for this place that I've been tied to since before I was born, I've also been given a million moments of joy and inspiration.
What place are you thankful for?