Saturday, September 29, 2007

To adapt - To adjust

After returning from a trip whether it be to Europe, to the United States or even a short trip into Southern Brazil, I always find myself not depressed exactly, but with a heavy, distraught feeling of need to re-adjust to Rio. On the surface this does not seem to make any sense. Rio is a beautiful city, in fact
Central Rio..........................................................Central Madrid
the farther away you go, the better your view and the more beautiful the city is. I always look forward to returning. My question here is really about adjusting or adapting and why I would have to RE-adjust on every return. If you look at the meaning of these two words they are basically the same. In fact the dictionary uses the word adapt to define adjust. Adjust (1) to adapt or conform (as to new conditions) and adapt (1) to make fit (as for a new situation) often by modification. This did not help me to understand my feelings, but down a bit at the bottom of adapt there was a section that said.... adapt implies modification according to changing circumstances and adjust implies bringing into a close and exact correspondence or harmony.
Based on this definition, I realized that I do the adapting part well. I can go to the cramped and chaotic supermarket and still remain polite, take a taxi to catch the bus to Friburgo, take the bus to go to the mall and sleep to the sound of buses shifting gears and horns of taxis protesting closely shared space, but I think that I have never adjusted.
There is no feeling of peace, of being at home, of being in harmony with my surroundings. I am always aware of being the stranger on the streets, anything I say in Portuguese marks me as 'Estrangeira' just as the blouses I wear or my sensible shoes, my broad shoulders and long stride do. Maybe speaking the language would bridge some of this need to adjust, it might bring some sense of harmony, but I fear it won't. I fear that only a life in your own country, among the major things that make home home can bring back any feeling of really belonging.

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