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November 21, 2017

As I crossed into the US yesterday, the border agent asked me where I was headed.

– São Paulo, Brazil.
– Is that home for you?
– Yeah.
– And what were you doing in Canada?
– I live here. I just got Permanent Residence
– So Canada is home?
– Yeah, I guess.

He didn’t question me further and wished me a good trip.

For four hours I slept. The first part of my 6800 mile journey was a flight to Dallas, then a 6h wait, and a 10h flight to Sao Paulo. 6h waiting at an airport is a damn long time even if you have options to keep yourself entertained. 6h feel like forever for me and my mind and that was what triggered a return to my chat with the border agent.

Leaving home is a drastic thing and there are several degrees to it. The first time I left home was in 2008, when I moved from Salvador to Sao Paulo to pursue a dream of filmmaking. One day I was home, the next I was 1000 miles away from my parents, my sister and my friends. It takes a bit of getting used to and rewiring your brain.

When living by yourself, if you want something done you are the only one responsible for getting it done. That can be both positive and negative. Positive as in if you want something, there’s no one there to stop you. Negative because there’s no one there to give it to you. I think that’s when I figured no one was gonna carry me anywhere and push me forward. It was all up to me.

This was great in the sense that I became independent and never minded being by myself. I enjoy my company quite a lot. The problem is after you’re on your own for long enough, you end up forgetting you can rely on others. While I was living by myself I taught myself photography, visual effects, juggling and filmmaking to some extent. Being ok on my own allowed me to keep this blog running for almost ten years now, create a youtube channel with 6000 subscribers and come up with various small passive income sources. On the downside, I never had more than a handful of friends, I’ve had more than one relationship crumble because of poor communication skills and only recently I started to feel comfortable trusting other people with things that matter to me.

Buying a one-way ticket symbolizes there’s no going back. It’s not a temporary thing. It’s an indefinite amount of time – many times with an indefinite goal in mind. There’s no “if I fuck up, next week I’ll be home and this will all be forgotten”. It’s starting from the ground up – not for the first time for many of us. It took me three and a half years of living in Canada before I was legally able to do similar work I used to do when I left Brazil. Don’t read me wrong, I don’t regret leaving home, but it’s important to acknowledge these are three years of my life that I’m not getting back. The only thing I can do is try to fly through the challenges I would’ve had more time to conquer.

That’s my plan for 2018. To make up for the lost time.

I was amazed by how my views on Canada changed after I got Permanent Residence status. I suddenly was no longer afraid that whole time had been wasted. It had amounted to something and I was gonna get something out of all the money, sweat and tears – there was plenty of all three. Suddenly there was a future I could plan for, and no longer an if-statement. I started caring about where I lived, about the people I had around me, about recycling and about making life better for others that are facing similar struggles to the one I withstood.

I’m proud of being Brazilian and I’ve always perceived my background as enriching and inspiring. The difference is now I feel like a Brazilian that belongs in Canada and not like a Brazilian who’s only here for a certain amount of time. I still feel like a foreigner but not anymore like an outsider.

Home is wherever you feel comfortable at, is the place you care the most about, is where you feel you’re welcome to be yourself with no masks. At the time of writing this post, I have three homes, and each of them harbors very very special people I can’t imagine living without.