I May Be a Foreigner, But I’m No Longer a Stranger

December 2013

December 2013

I take pride in knowing my neighborhood and its details. I like knowing that at the Sunday feira, there’s a man with a thick northeastern accent who spends the morning shredding coconut with a knife and sells it by the cupful. I like knowing which house has the six cats and that the Siamese one will ignore you, but the tabby will come running and demand to be petted. I’ve even come to appreciate knowing what time the gas truck passes by, announcing its presence with dinky music.

I like recognizing what’s constant, but I feel especially good about recognizing what’s changed. After all, it takes a true resident to know that the large white wall used to have a Japanese-themed mural, but has been since painted over. Or that it didn’t used to be this noisy at night, but they changed the bus routes so now buses pass through this street until late. Even knowing the minor fact that the guava tree in the park was cleared away makes me feel proud.

I’ve come to realize that this knowledge and awareness are key in combatting my foreigner mentality, the belittling feeling that I don’t belong. Even though I still struggle saying the word Anhangabaú, I can tell people which buses pass through here. When I leave the house, I walk down the street with comfort, with familiarity, with perception. I have a growing sense of context and memory that give me a sense of place.

I can’t wait to see how much more I will learn about my neighborhood in a year.

August 2014

August 2014

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