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  • Andre Lamartin

The Long Goodbye

Leaving behind your loved ones is never an easy task, but no family life is made whole again by chaining yourself to the past. There comes a time when a man must leave his former self, escaping the mindless servitude of a life that renders him perennially unwell, travelling to a foreign land where he may find a new home. The goal is not to escape from himself, but simply to escape from the person he would become if he no longer feared Hell. A person that no longer complains about the problems that for so long chained him to a life of intermittent regret, where the future was forever bound to unforgiving mistakes of the past. Sometimes only a change of scenery can spare him from a life never meant to be his, when none of the roads travelled ever led him to long lasting bliss. Crossing the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean may seem like a daunting task, but the memories carried along will forever last. For every moment of pitch black darkness there were many others of joyful light, memories that serve as a loyal guide taking me back in time, should the need ever arise.

Setting aside the requisite time to relocate, the goal now is simply to say goodbye, knowing that I may never return to this place where so much that I looked for I could never find. A place that was my home not for a fleeting while, but throughout the most pressing and considerable of life's myriad existential trials. The collection of scars amassed are displayed with the valor of a survivor, clearly mindful of the onerous risks undertaken, but resolute to go on fighting for his family's salvation. There is so much in life that I still long to find, there is so much in life for which I still must fight, that scarcely can I believe that age is any impediment to finding a new place of residence, where hope can find a new home, where imagination is free to wander and roam. Only humility can force me to leave for spirit, mind and heart must all agree that the time has come to chart a new course, joining an entirely new workforce, engulfed in the daily spiral of a worker's laborious fight. A land where an hour of my local time seems like a second to be, where people sometimes fail to see that the point of working is simply to live and not living to work, eternally.

So from the vantage point of this moment in time, I reflect on what I will miss, revisiting the life that meant so much to me. Leaving my family behind is undoubtedly the most difficult choice, despite knowing that in my heart they will forever reside, despite the misunderstandings and troubles of daily domestic life. If this is the place where they truly belong, the same cannot be said about me. Life requires me to leave, despite knowing that so much is left behind, any sudden departure is an enormous sacrifice. Long were the days when being far away from my family, a long distance call was the only bridge momentarily connecting me to my loved ones, but occasionally only great distances help you to see how close you will always be. The bonds of love and affection are so strong that the physics of nuclear force has been proven wrong. Sometimes, in order to be of greater mutual assistance, a family may have to live separated by great distances. This is as much as I will say, for my words decided to my familial love betray. A love that still asks me to stay, exchanging a bright future for a bright day, seemingly eternal but deceptively transient, simply postponing a decision that would invariably have been made anyway.

My parents are my best friends and have always remained by my side, despite moments when I could only question if they were going blind. Parents sometimes feel like they always know what is best, making uncalled decisions for their children that they later regret. Forgiveness was meant for these moments when the future must overcome the past, where all unsolved problems are finally laid to rest. When dialogue alone fails to bridge great distances, mutual trust must serve as a link between those who agree to disagree. The same can be said about my brother, who sometimes treats me with the indifference of a stranger, as if the bond of brotherhood was reduced to dying embers. Though it may be difficult to forgive someone who adamantly refuses to acknowledge a mistake, a Christian may be inclined to look the other way, expecting to have the requisite talk someday. Adopted from the streets, Conan, our family dog will also be missed. The only friend I ever had who never valued himself above everyone else. Having survived life on the streets he understands very well the value of a family, as well as the need to appease. I would easily take him with me if only I believed it was in his best interest to live overseas.

The sunshine and the ocean I will always carry inside, wherever life may lead, wherever God may guide. So many are the memories of having communed with nature that the unforgettable sense of peace and quiet are bound a lifetime to last, never to be buried in the past. Taking a cue from the “Sermon on the Mount”, I always believed the ocean to be a place of worship in no way less sacred or appealing than the local Catholic Church. This is the place where I sought refuge during trying times, where the natural beauty of God's creation is displayed for all to see, free of charge, as it should be. Asking only for a brief moment of my time, while allowing me to truly live free because spiritual restoration is not a crime, providing the necessary downtime.

The physicality of living in a tropical climate, where exercise is an integral part of life, will also be missed. The new lifestyle of a foreign land would hardly agree with the same time demands placed on daily physical activity, especially in a hectic city. Even if nature did not object, the realities of the labor market would conspire against the maintenance of my current lifestyle. This is a matter of concern for anyone who believes that time is the most valuable of commodities, never squandered with impunity, chasing the tempting illusions of this world.

The recurrent use of the Portuguese language should also prove untenable. Despite writing in English, the realities of living in Brazil demand that I converse in Portuguese, a language that has a melodic beauty of its own, not to mention an intrinsically logical syntactic structure. For someone who loves the language to the point of studying grammar for fun, the greatest contribution that this tropical civilization will make to the world will undoubtedly be its language, assuming it used to disseminate the truth for a change. Resuming the daily use of spoken English should demand minimal effort, but the inability to communicate in Portuguese will be felt. There are so many different worlds within the confines of a single planet that linguistic barriers clearly delineate much more than nationalities; they delineate entirely different outlooks on life, never disregarded with impunity.

The months ahead will amount to a long goodbye. A time spent revisiting the places that meant so much to me, bidding farewell to a land that had little use for me, since my values are not its own. What is worshiped I deplore and what I worship they ignore. To settle this dispute I can resign myself to go on fighting a losing battle or travel abroad to where I may be shown greater respect, both from family and from the rest. If this is the choice before me, no longer can I waste any time. Some travelers were meant to journey alone when difficult is the ride and challenging is life. In the end, I am just looking for a place to call home, if not forever at least for a while. As I once wrote:

To find your place in this world, the home where you belong, takes the courage to make mistakes, and the perseverance to right what´s wrong. Takes a luminary vision to conquer darkness, and a stentorian voice to silence fears. Takes humility to acknowledge arrogance, and the spirit to vanquish tears. For Freedom may be priceless, but it always comes at a cost: daily silent sacrifices, unseen by many, not by God. But having travelled far and wide, no place have I to rest my bones, for I have come to realize, in words alone resides my home.

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