I was recently introduced to the Portuguese word saudade (I am reliably informed that the ‘de’ at the end is pronounced more like ‘je’). It doesn’t have a direct translation in English. To butcher the elegant translation given to me (and to pilfer from Wikipedia), saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or melancholic longing for things or people that have been loved and lost.
Although the word is new to me, it’s a feeling with which I am intimately familiar. I am a slave to melancholic nostalgia.
I miss going to my Grandma’s house. I would spend an entire summer kicking an air floater football against the garage, smashing Hot Wheels cars against each other on Grandma’s footrest (which she unfortunately called her ‘poof’), accidentally mashing orange silly putty into the carpet, eating Special K for breakfast every morning. I miss creeping out of bed to sit on the landing in the dark and listen to the TV downstairs, sneaking into Grandma’s room with its lurid pink carpet. Those summers were so solitary, but I was so content.
I miss falling hopelessly in love with women who didn’t reciprocate, the intensity of that pain and longing. I miss gripping my phone and begging it to ring, reading more in every text message than was ever present, thinking of her as soon as I woke up every morning. I miss being the kind of person who would get up at 5am just to walk with her to catch her bus, pretending that I had been awake anyway. I miss writing poorly conceived love poetry.
I miss the sense of possibility.
I miss my friends. I long for the time before they moved off around the country, around the world, got married, had kids. I hate that I am becoming less important in their lives. I miss playing Guitar Hero before it was cool, meeting for impromptu evening walks, competing at ping pong in a cramped garage, writing 15-minute songs about Arnold Schwarzenegger, putting our pictures on Hot or Not (my highest ever average was a 5.5/10). It feels like they have left me behind.
Saudade is beautiful, but it is also painful and irrational. I know that I can’t have that time again. It has slipped through my fingers like grains of sand.
For all my best attempts to foster new memories in the present, it feels like my life has fatally stalled. Nostalgia rules me because now feels so much worse than then. In those memories there is joy, and hurt, and curiosity. These days I am empty; an ambulatory chalice for things past.
I miss hope. I miss excitement. I miss love. Saudade is a lifeline to all of those feelings of which I used to have in abundance, and have since lost.
Saudade is a bitch.