Saying Goodbye: Our last week together in Rio

I remember the first time I stepped foot in this apartment. Gustavo had moved in earlier that year and, still, barely had any furniture. As a result, his place was a hub to gather before heading out to parties in the city. The wide-open layout meant everyone could drink, dance, and take pictures (god knows there were a lot of pictures) before heading out into the night.

I remember arriving tired. I flew in from California after spending a month in LA, trying to figure out where I wanted to live. I’d wanted to visit Rio since my first trip nearly a year prior to that. Gustavo said I could stay with him, picked me up at the airport, and I promptly crashed when I arrived.

4833 miles

Since then, this apartment has been a home away from home. I’ve hated it, but I’ve welcomed its familiarity. It’s felt both like a cage and a place of peace.

As we finally prepare for our move to the United States together, we’re going through the apartment – room by room – to pack, condense, recycle, and, essentially, Marie Kondo the whole place. I love the process of clearing out, but it’s emotional, too.

Over the weekend, we packed the majority of what I’ll be bringing home in my two big suitcases. Most of my things are already in a storage unit, so I’ll primarily have kitchen items, Gustavo’s clothes and shoes, and photos in transit with me. The house is finally starting to look empty.

Throughout the day, I find myself pausing in different rooms, taking it all in. There’s a huge sense of release, but also a little bit of fear and uncertainty. We’ve been waiting for this for what felt like so long. What comes next?

Going away

To prepare for the big trip, this week has been more family-focused. Now that our plans have solidified, the move feels more real. Well, precisely because it is more real. Gustavo bought his one-way ticket the day we picked up his passport.

Last weekend, we organized a little dinner together with the bulk of Gustavo’s family in Rio. Cousins, aunts, nieces and nephews, and, of course, his parents. We went to Capricciosa, a pizzeria in Jardim Botânico, which meets my impossible New Jersey/Italian standards. Mostly, at least.

On Sunday, we cleared out a little more, in the middle of binge-watching Game of Thrones. (I never started watching until recently, so there’s a lot of catch-up work for me to do.) Lots of planning and logistics and trying to relax as much as possible so we (mostly, I) don’t get too stressed in the process. Though, we did make sure to stop at our favorite brunch place in the morning – Emporio Jardim.

Oh! And we also had some ovos de Páscoa delivered. Gustavo, of course, has tried these before, but I haven’t. In Brazilian, the tradition for Easter eggs is a little bit different. Rather than just a chocolate egg, you can order a large, filled chocolate egg, stuff withed chocolate ganache and fillings like brownies, brigadeiro, paçoca, and more. It’s so good and so rich.

On Tuesday, I finally convinced Gustavo that now was our last chance to do something I’ve been asking about for ages: taking a dance class together. We signed up for an hour-long samba class with Rio Samba Dancer in the Hotel Mercure Copacabana.

The class was, ironically, in English, but it was a lot of fun. I’ve taken quite a few samba classes in New York, but have always wanted to try it out here. I mean, I have danced samba in Rio before – but with friends and at a party. Saying I learned samba in Rio, though, has a pretty nice ring to it.

What’s next?

Tonight, we’re going to go out for some more traditional Brazilian food for me before I leave. I’ve started packing my own things before heading home for about two weeks. (I’ll be visiting Thailand for the first time in May!)

I want to try to appreciate these last few days as much as possible. Despite my often difficult relationship with Rio, it’s had a profound impact on me. I have changed so much since I “moved” here and I’m grateful. Sure, I won’t forget the bad things, but I want to remember the good things, too.

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