Porto’s Alma 4
I bet you noticed that my head is predominantly depicted in a drooped position as if I were sad or lost in thoughts. It’s not that I am looking down on people stopping by. It’s nothing like that. It’s just the way I am, melancholic, dreamy or sad but in a good way. That’s why the “sad girl” (Trauriges Mädchen MZ) from the city of Mainz in Germany really is like my twin sister. Like her, I am happy in my sadness. It is my way of connecting with life through my emotions. I prefer to be a little sad in order to be aware of every possible emotion around me compared to being always happy in a superficial, shallow way of partying. For me, sadness is something good, something profound, something that gives life so much more meaning. Embedded in this melancholically inclining of my head is, of course, this one special Portuguese word which I tend to guard like a treasure. I am almost scared to write it because I don’t want to lose it by sharing it with too many people. I think, it is also a language problem. American English like I know it from TV-series can be so bold and simple sometimes. And because it is not my native language, I am not able to express myself with the vocabulary my soul is screaming for. Without my Portuguese treasure words it is impossible to describe you, minha Alma. So please, when I am going to tell you that special name now, please don’t use it too often, make it rare, grant it its importance. I recognize that the words “I love” trip easily off people’s tongues, that people denote these important words of intimacy to the slightest event. “I love the weather, I love these shoes, oh my God I just fucking love it”, I hear people say and then I am immediately shocked that the words “fuck” and “love” are so quickly stringed together. But anyway as you notice I am trying to hide my treasure word again. So here it comes, and please, you have to pronounce it the European Portuguese way and especially with the accent of northern Portugal. Do not pronounce the last “d” as “tsch” as is the Brazilians way. That has its own beautiful melody as well but it has nothing of the mentality found in northern Portugal. Here, everything is so much tougher or more robust in its pronunciation just like the mentality or the landscape. And yes, I deeply belief that all this is connected or why do you think Portuguese people call their homeland “minha terra” meaning “my earth”. It mirrors their strong connection between identity and the landscape they grow up in. Even people who live quite away from Portugal would feel this deep “saudade” closely linked to their homeland. And yes know I said it, this word “saudade” lies so deeply rooted in my heart that I fear to say it out loud. It evokes a feeling of homesickness that is lost in translation. It describes some sort of sad nostalgia you are happy to feel. You can even have it without directly feeling it. Because if you don’t feel this profound “saudade” in your heart, it means your soul is empty, is without love, is lost in absurdity. The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk wrote about the Turkish word “hüzün”, which makes you incapable to act and compares it to the French term “tristesse”. These terms are truly related to the Portuguese saudade but writing about it makes no sense at all. You have to really feel it to understand. The feeling arises when falling in love with a person living in another country; it is linked to distance but it could mean being homesick and experiencing wanderlust or what we would call “Fernweh” in German. You are sad when you feel it but you are also melancholic if you don’t feel it. It is a melody of your heart and it is one composed in a minor key. It is a feeling marking you with a culture of one special mentality and I think this is why the pattern of your veil adopts the swings of ramification from the plants growing below you. You are so deeply connected to your urban earth, “tua terra” that all feelings of “saudade” suffered by this city are connected through your lines, root systems and folds. I like that about you. I look at you and my own pain of saudade heals softly.