Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strength in Union

This is the  next block in the diary quilt procession -- Strength in Union. It's meant to be a patriotic block, with red, white & blue but I tweaked it to fit our life and better reflect who I am these days.

While I will always and forever be a proud American, patriotic to the core, and even more than that a proud Texan, the fact is I love Brazil almost as much. So I chose to combine the two -- red and blue for the USA and green, blue & yellow for Brazil.

Living here, I have to try and merge my American self into Brazilian culture. I have to unite the two sides of me, becoming neither one nor the other but a mixture of both.

I have to set aside the American tendency to impatience and take up the Brazilian way of relationship above efficiency. So that instead of glancing at my watch every 2 minutes in line at the grocery store, I chat with my husband and enjoy the uninterrupted conversation now that we are able to shop without the boys in tow.

I have to remind myself that while Americans are very private and keep certain subjects to themselves, Brazilians are not being nosy, but being caring, to ask about those very things. So that when my neighbor, who I've spoken to three times in two years, tells me all about her husband leaving her I'm not so shocked I don't know how to respond. And when the other neighbor asks how things are I'll feel comfortable giving her an honest answer, since she is truly interested and not just for the sake of gossip.

I have to embrace the inner Brazilian that lets me wear a bikini to the beach, or heels to the grocery store, or wedge sandals to the park and leave behind the conservative American home school mom who cringes at the thought of exposing, gasp!, my midriff on a summers' day, or the practical chasing a busy boy mom side of me who cannot bear the thought of anything but tennis shoes at the park. (solution: send the dad chasing after the busy boy....)

I have to hang on to the very American desire for quality workmanship and work ethic when dealing with those who work for us - not just our house helper, Antonia, who's amazing, but doctors, dentists, etc. who will do the bare minimum if we let them. Like the time we had the wood revarnished, and the worker spilled varnish on the side of the house. I  had to be very unBrazilian and tell him to clean it, to my satisfaction, in hopes of not having to repaint later myself. (that got it mostly clean...).

I take the foods we can buy here and cook them in ways that are familiar to me, merging the cuisine into something neither American nor Brazilian, but down right good. I buy our movies where all Brazilians buy their movies (at the market in Centro....), but I buy them in English, merging my home culture with my host culture, bit by bit, inch by inch, until now, almost 4 years later, I've kind of lost sight of which is which. I've become neither/nor, either/or, not wholly one or the other but a mixture of both and so much the stronger for it.

 A Texan in Brazil. The red, white & blue in a sea of green, blue & yellow. Merging, mingling, becoming more than, not less than. Different, better, stronger. And I find as I unite these two sides of me, these two countries I've now called home, that there is Strength in the Union.

If you've moved away from your home town, even if not to a new country, has your new home left its mark on you? And do you find yourself better for it? 


  1. Awesome to read that post! If only all countries could meld, and appreciate each other. That's my favorite reason for travel -- reaffirming that most people are downright nice when you take time to learn their culture.


  2. I think you've done a beautiful job of merging Texas-American with Brazil. Love the block and all it means to you!! :)

  3. Cool block and explanation - I hope you are going to put these posts into a photo book so the stories aren't lost.

    You know I've moved, can't remember how many times and yeah I'm a mixture of all the things and it's all good (well almost) which I'm handing down to my two. So Scones w tea on St Georges Day, burgers and ribs on Independence Day.