I sat alone in the living room, laptop in front of me, watching my hands do their little "dance" in place on my keyboard – a new hand-fidget I’ve unconsciously started to do ever since arriving to Brazil, and seems to happen only when I get too nervous. I've come to call it the quick-fidgety-tapping-on-the-keyboard-keys-so-that-it-produces-a-somewhat-audible-noise-without-actually-pressing-down-on-the-keys sound. It's hard to pinpoint why this has started happening, but I think it's because I no longer have my friends, my family, and the comfort of my home at the end of the day to fall back on when I get anxious, so these odd little habits spawn as a way to cope instead.
So, why was I so nervous? Because it was the day that I was finally supposed to introduce both my families to one another, my Brazilian one and my American one. I’m a person who likes to keep different parts of my life very separate from each other. I act very different around my friends, as I do with my family. The way I act depending on the social groups in my life is very different, so the fact that two very important pieces of my life were about to come together was a very strange feeling for me. What would they think of each other? What would they say? What would they say about me? What if they don’t get along? All these questions were hurtling through my head, which only made my hand fidgeting intensify.
I think I was also nervous because I had such high opinions of both my families, and I wanted each of them to see in each other what I saw in them. I wanted to show how serious, yet goofy and kind my American family was, and how serious, yet welcoming and kind-hearted my new Brazilian family was too. I was struggling to find the words to tell them, so I bottled those feelings up and expressed them to myself via the constant tapping on my keyboard. It was almost midnight here in Brazil, but only 6pm back in the California. I was just waiting for my parents to come home from work to skype them, and finally connect my new and old family together after having procrastinated this moment for 2+ months.
Finally, I saw the little red dot flicker on to green on Skype next to my parents’ names, signaling that they had just come online. My heart dropped to my stomach, but somehow I mustered up the words to call my host family into the room with me. I hit the video-call button and waited anxiously until the big smiling faces of my mom, dad, and younger brother appeared on screen. Instantly, my host parents’ faces lit up as well, and sporadic hand-waving followed soon after. I introduced everyone to each other, trying to act both as a host and a rapid-fire translator. I could see in everyone’s eyes just how excited they were to be able to meet the other important side of my life. My parents quickly started to tell my host family all about my childhood, and all the embarrassing moments I had in high school. And in turn, my host parents told my American family all about my broken Portuguese and how I always seem to get myself hopelessly lost downtown. Seeing my two families meet was such a weight off my shoulders – I mean, it was one that I’ve been holding on to for over two months now. At least for now, my hands are can finally be still again. Just seeing how happy everyone was to be there at that moment felt like a golden moment for me here in Brazil. I’m so glad that I was there to witness it, and I hope for many more moments like this to come.