New Jersey, Round 2

I can’t believe two weeks has already gone by so quickly. I feel like I was just picking Gustavo up at the airport, showing him his first glimpse of (dirty) snow after a particularly brutal end to the NJ winter. 

We spent the first week at my mom’s house, which meant that my dog got to fawn all over Gustavo, who’s not usually much of a dog person. Francis goes wild for him and it’s so cute watching him offer to walk the dog, seeing them both bop off down the street every few hours or so.

We didn’t make any big plans for this trip, since it was a bit unexpected. We weren’t planning on spending any time together in the US until I decided to extend my trip by another six weeks and he found a reasonable flight over. Because of that, we decided to keep things pretty relaxed, as opposed to my usual desire to cram in a bunch of things that I want to show him.

Mostly, we went to Crossfit, watched Netflix, caught up with a few friends and family. My primary mission was to show Gustavo that crazy variety of food available in New Jersey, since one of the things I miss most when we’re in Brazil is the sheer variety of cuisines we have here. One of the biggest cultural differences between the US and Brazil, in my experience, is how most immigrant cultures tend to assimilate into Brazilian culture, whereas in the US it’s very much a source of pride for everyone to hold onto their cultures and what makes them unique.

Just in the first few days, without even trying, we had Mexican, Indian, Turkish, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Italian, and even Brazilian food. I get so many cravings while I’m in Rio because I love tasting new things and there’s only so much variety to Brazilian food, especially if you’re vegetarian. After all, my favorite day in school when I was a kid was our International Day, when everyone brought in a dish from their home culture. There’s an empanada my classmate’s mom made when I was in second grade that I’ve never forgotten.

After a meeting to learn more about Gustavo and my options for his immigration, we went into New York to work out at Solace, one of our favorite gyms, and pick up some sweets for a party we had on the weekend. My mom decided to throw together a little lunch at a local restaurant so our family and friends could meet Gustavo, since many of them haven’t yet. We wanted to bring a few Brazilian desserts to show the mix of our cultures, so we stopped at Brigadeiro in New York to pick up a ton of the little treats. We also happened to stop by and, since there was almost no line, finally got to grab some of the edible cookie dough. It was a sugar overload, but I loved it.

This past week we were originally planning to take some day trips around New Jersey, but we had a problem with the Airbnb we were supposed to stay at, which shifted our plans a bit. We’re now in a hotel, which means I get to enjoy my favorite hotel breakfasts, and just chill in the evenings to watch Money Heist. Tomorrow is Gustavo’s last day and I keep whispering “don’t leave” every few seconds.

For now, he has to, but we got some good information about what we need to do for immigration so we can both stay here together soon. I’m so nervous and excited about it. I just want it to happen so much faster than I know it will.

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