We even had our own local Portuguese radio station that transmitted on weekends. There was a local Portuguese cable channel as well that carried a few hours of programs direct from Portugal. Spending those summers there was glorious. I, therefore, identified as Portuguese but on that day in Torreira, it all came crashing down. No matter how well I spoke, read or write, no matter how many lyrics I knew to the songs playing on Portuguese radio, no matter how much I knew about Portuguese history and literature and no matter how much I loved S.
I was American! I slowly started noticing people correcting me on my Portuguese. In my childhood vacations to Portugal, I was surrounded by my family and the wonderful neighbors they had. The Leite family lived next door to my grandparents and as I played with Joana and Filipa they never cared about my accent or mispronunciation.
The shopkeeper in Torreira finally brought it all home to me. Was I American? Nowadays, you can identify as an animal or a lamp post and while people may snicker, they at least understand the concept. I began to wonder if others came to this realization. My parents were the first people I turned to. They realized it the first time they returned to Portugal after being away for a long time. Their perspective and attitude had become American.
Maria Rita:Bolero De Satã Lyrics
They noticed that they had a certain brashness and more worldly view when they visited Portugal in after being away for a few years. Portugal was still under a dictatorship and the old ways of the three Fs lifestyle: Fado, Fatima and Football were still prominent. The three Fs was a concept that the Salazar regime had devised to pacify the people. My parents, along with other returning emigrants, had gained some new perspectives in America.
They evolved while many in their small town had not because they lived under Fascism.
In Isabel's arms
They also wore different clothes and were more demanding in terms of service and amenities. As Portugal freed itself from the yoke of Salazar the Portuguese evolved but on a different plain. The two lifestyles had simply broken off because thousands of Portuguese living in America and countless more living in Portugal were isolated from each other. It became a two-track culture. Those that decided to stay in Portugal non-emigrants looked down on emigrants like my parents. Whether it was jealousy we drove into town in swanky rental cars and designer jeans and sneakers , betrayal or just plain hate they let you know it.
Many of them were downright rude to the native Portuguese and their kids would mock the locals calling them smelly or worse. Sure, they had a different outlook and perspective on life, but the roots were still planted there. They could at least identify as being Portuguese no matter what people said or thought.
For my generation it was different. We lived a dichotomous life. At home and in the neighborhood, we were Portuguese. We were surrounded by the culture our parents had shared with us. While this culture was based on Portuguese traditions like food, holidays, culture, language and religion it was vastly different from what our counterparts were experiencing in Portugal. If the gap had been wide for the previous generation it was a downright chasm for ours.
American kids made fun of our chourico sandwiches for lunch, our clothes, and our general way of life even though we felt as American as they did. When we went on vacation Portuguese kids made fun of our Luso-American words for soda, sneakers, ice cream and furniture. They mocked our clothes and thought it odd when we spoke of pizza which sounds like penis in Portugal or ate hot dogs brought over in suitcases. We grew up torn between two vastly different cultures.
It is not to say that life was horrible, but these things did leave a mark. Many of my peers clung on more to the American lifestyle and slowly began to distance themselves from Portugal. This romantic vision now shattered, what was I to do? Who was I really? I was forged in two countries but culturally I felt like I had no home.
Life sort of got in the way. I married an Italian American and we had two kids who were raised American, and I traveled so much for the business that the thought of getting on a plane to vacation just seemed like more work.
Maria Rita:Bolero De Satã Lyrics | LyricWiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia
I did eventually visit Portugal with my kids Adam and Victoria but something had changed. I suddenly began to despise the place. More years passed, and life changed for me in America. I divorced, came to terms with alcohol addiction and exorcized some demons within.
I met a lady I knew in my teens. My wife Susana is Portuguese she was born in Caldas de Rainha, Portugal but moved here when she was 1 year old and we knew each other from high school. Like some 80s movie we both never told the other we liked them romantically. I guess it was a cosmic Wuthering Heights thing happening again although Catherine and Heathcliff got together in this story rather than their kids as in Wuthering Heights.
Living with someone with a similar dichotomous identity made me finally realize that I could be both. I had the best bits of two great cultures. I was lucky enough to inherit both cultures and together these two worlds made me who I am. Nothing brought home this point more than when we had our daughter. Scandal Of Grace Hillsong United. Wonder Hillsong United.
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