Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Never Really Belonging

A little bit more thankfulness for the Thanksgiving Blog Hop:

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

The Poco Iniciativo at the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal. This well's circular walkway lead to subterranean caverns and is one of the gems of the magic-infused grounds of the Quinta and Palacio da Regaleira. It takes a lot of wandering the forests near the house (estate? Palace?) to find this place.

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
And I have more pictures and videos from this year's trip on my Tumblr.

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?


  1. What a beautiful post. :) I think it's wonderful that you are so in touch with your ancestry and the place that your family springs from. In many ways, I wish that my family wasn't so far removed from our countries of origin (meaning, my ancestors' countries). I grew up in a predominantly Italian community, and I was always envious of the kids who came from first generation families. Such a rich culture. :)

    Thanks for sharing this, and for posting such beautiful pictures too! :)

  2. PLEEEEAAASSEEEEEE take me with you next time you go! I can almost feel the magic through the pictures. Awesome! Such rich heritage and ties to the past. Wonderful. Like Jaime said, I too wish I had a link to my family's history. But, it's so riddled with gaps I couldn't trace anything back to any sort of origin. Talk about never really belonging...