I feel saudade.

I’m not normally one to analyze the definitions of words but during my trip here I stumbled across a beautiful and strangely fascinating Portuguese word: saudade. One of my hosts, a very nice Brazilian man named Eduardo (featured with Nate and I below), first told me about this word in one of our conversations. He told me about how in the Portuguese language they have this word that they are very proud of because it doesn’t have a translation in any other language. Portuguese speakers alone have the unique privilege of being able to express this sentiment in this powerful way. After our conversation, I looked into further definitions of saudade and became more and more intrigued and drawn to this concept.

The meaning of saudade is difficult to explain, as there’s nothing quite like it in our complex but very limited language. When used casually, saudade can be essentially the same as missing somebody, like how I miss those at home while I’m on this trip. However, it has so much more complexity and depth below the surface. The most succinct definition I came across is that saudade is “the love that remains” after something or someone is gone. It evokes both sad and happy feelings at the same time; happiness because of having something you loved but sadness because it is gone. It can also mean a continuous longing for something that doesn’t actually exist and may not ever exist. It is similar to nostalgia, or desire, or longing, but it is none of these things. In a way, it is all of them. It is a beautiful and complex word that I feel like I hardly comprehend even as I try to explain it.

As I look at these skylines I think I feel it. One is of the city I call home and one is of the city that has become my home for these few brief weeks. They are thousands of miles away but I love them both, and they both hold a special spot in my heart. Right now I think I feel saudade (perhaps in its more casual use) for Rochester, as I miss all the people and things from back home. But I know that soon I will return there, and then it will be Sao Bernardo that I miss. I can already feel the looming onset of the conflict between my happiness for this experience and my sadness because I don’t know if I will ever return to see this place again. I think that soon I will feel saudade for here, this place that is becoming like a second home to me. I will always love one but also feel a desire for the other. That is the beauty and the heartbreak of saudade.

-Josiah Lyon

Categories: Brazil 2018


Rebekah Distaffen · May 14, 2018 at 10:59 pm

I am so glad you discovered this word!! I have been searching for so long for a word, or even a million words, to describe how I’m feeling– homeless yet always at home. And I think this is the closest one I’ll ever be able to find! I love it 🙂

    Global Honors · May 17, 2018 at 12:49 am

    It’s an incredible word! I’m glad it helps!

Lisa Torrell · May 16, 2018 at 2:13 am

This is beautifully written…

    Global Honors · May 17, 2018 at 12:49 am

    Thank you!

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