There is a word in Portuguese that is often mentioned as one without a real equivalent in English: “saudade.” It essentially means longing, or homesickness, or emotional wishing-for, missing.
Sorry to say, I rarely, rarely have saudade for the United States. Sure, I miss my friends, but the country itself? – not so much. Even when Brazil drives me crazy with its high prices, under-educated populace and corrupt elected officials, I still do not pine for the days of living in the United States.
But at times my heart aches for the folks living in places I used to haunt. In this case I am referring to Detroit. I was born in Detroit. I went to school in Detroit (well, a block or two from the border of the City). My first real girlfriend (yes, I had a girlfriend) lived in Detroit. I loved Detroit.
But nowadays I’m sad for Detroit. It has fallen so far. I have saudade for how things used to be.
When my extended family lived in or near Detroit it was the heyday of the auto industry. The Big Three, we would say (GM, Chrysler, Ford). Almost everybody’s parent worked for the auto industry, or some other job supporting the industry. My grandmother used to joke that if she had a dollar for every slice of pie she served to auto workers in the diner she spent her working life in, she would be a millionaire.
But now things are different. Most of that is gone.
My brother and his wife moved to a cute little historic block in Detroit some time ago, bought an old Victorian house and refurbished it (Dan did a fantastic job!). They were one of the star homes on the neighborhood Christmas walking tour. But they saw the writing on the wall, sold the house, and moved to the country.
Now Detroit lays feral – or mostly so. Good luck my friends in Detroit. I know you are all rooting for success.
For a real taste of Detroit today – go take a look at the Sweet Juniper blog.