Copacabana beach can be a very peaceful place. At dawn, when the sun starts to melt away the mist, the beach is almost empty, with the exception of a few, who use to sleep here in summer. Some do so, because they don’t have anywhere else to go. They sleep next to the roadside where the palmtrees grow, on the sand, plastic bags filled with empty bottles and cans under their heads. Travellers sleep here, next to the water, easy to recognize by their giant backpacks and their burned skin, and their unwashed hair. Some faveleiros, the people from the slums scattered on Rio’s various hills, come down here to enjoy the summer, lying side by side with the rich kids from Rio’s southside areas and with the tourists from all over the world – you’ll recognize them easily by their skincolour (“café com leite” – the nice brazilian way to discribe a mulatto), and by the big round scars many have on their backs – healed bullet wounds.
My brother and I use to come here every morning at around 7 a.m. My granny’s flat lies just around the corner. We sit here, listen to the waves, watch the people building up their stands, where they offer sunshades and chairs.
And we talk. About the concept of “home”. About growing up in between the worlds. About how we cannot understand the feeling of homesickness – when people ask us, do you miss Germany? Do you miss Brazil? And both times we have to answer – no. We don’t. We miss people. But missing a country? So what is “home”?
Maybe it is a place, where you feel safe – because your friends are around, and you know every single bit the place has to offer. But what do you do if your friends are scattered around the world? Then maybe “home” is not a place. Maybe “home” then is just a moment, a moment you share when you meet all together again after a long while, reviving old memories.
Maybe “home” is your family. People you grew up with, no matter where this was, who should know you from the very beginning of your existence. But what do you do if you feel alienated by your own kin? When you realize – these are just a bunch of people you’d never spend time with voluntarily, that you’ll only doing this because you’re related to them? That you’re somehow different?
Then, maybe “home” is, when you feel understood. When you sit together with someone and you know, he or she feels exactly what you’re talking about. No matter if he or she is a friend, a stranger, or your brother. How we as people are limited in our abilities … just trying to survive every day, being our best in what we feel we must do, and somehow deluding ourselves that the world cares. When you whilst talking truly understand that we’re somehow all the same, with our packages, traumas, secrets. Connected by the pure fact that we’re living on the same planet.
Maybe this is the moment when you touch the meaning of the word “home”.
At 9 a.m., when the first tourists arrive and the sun starts to burn hellishly, we go back home, stop at a bar to buy a fresh juice, and merge again into my grandmother’s high gloss world of diamonds, yachts and chit-chat.