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  • Rai Cantisano

the time of saudade (or saudade with my love)

last night, as i was about to fall asleep, i looked into my partner's eyes and said goodnight.

my chest squeezed and a familiar thought appeared: "i miss him".


he is right next to me, our lives so deeply and deliciously intertwined, the most intimacy i have ever experienced... how could we possibly be closer?

here are some thoughts:

saudade is a word that only exists in the portuguese language. it is a noun that denotes the feeling of melancholy when i am apart from someone/something/somewhere i love, that matters to me. being it spatially apart (an ocean away from loved ones) and/or "timely" (i haven't seen them for many years).

i know the feeling as well as i speak portuguese. but how could i be feeling it in the same space and time as my love?

in quantum physics, there's a theory that says all of the events in someone's life (and all of the events in our universe) already exist, right now. through that lens, time, like space, already is in its entirety, even though we only experience a little of it at a time (much like space).

more than loving but, really, committing to someone means no longer being in the driver's seat of grief (as if we ever were, but the illusion can be powerful). when i opt into a forever partnership, i am theoretically signing up to death doing us part. loving peter now, and wanting to love him for as long as i can means knowing there is a finite infinite of days (wondering who'll catch this reference), in this lifetime for us. present-me is in cahoots with future-me, when, inevitably, we say our forever goodbyes. maybe i (now) am lightening her (me, then) load. if i know here and now that i'm in this relationship until the end it means the end will come to me, rather than me fabricating it with a "fuck outta here" or a nicer version of that. not being god brings up feelings for me. hence, saudade.

also, (as illuminated by a dream i had, moments after) the fact that i love this human being here-and-now does not in any way diminish or numb the fact that we've each had a lifetime of love before our encounter (and during, and i suspect after - not because we'll break up, duh, but i have a hunch that love lingers even after our bodies are gone). love we lived, love we lost, love that shaped and moved us. love that is missed, in this moment, through this love, here and now.

loving is losing. and if my heart is closed to the pain, it will never feel the pleasure. so i sleep at ease, after this painfully beautiful moment, full of love (and saudade), with my love.

i'll let the brilliant activist, documentary filmmaker, lawyer, educator, and faith leader Valarie Kaur drive the point home:

“Love is a form of sweet labor: fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life giving – a choice we make over and over again. (...) It engages all our emotions: Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love.”

i wish someone had told me falling in love might as well be called falling in grief (or joy, or anger, or insert another big emotion).

i wish. (i know)

i would choose it again.

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