World Cup starts today in Brazil and I’ve been counting the days for the first kick since the beginning of June. Everywhere I look, somebody seems to be posting something about protests, celebrations, preparations. I can feel online the exciting atmosphere, the anxiety, the unsatisfaction with the contradictions between hosting an amazing event we would otherwise love and the social cost of it, the desire to have a great party. I can feel the joy of being part and making history spreading around my country. It’s such a great feeling, I can only imagine how people must be on the streets and in the bars. I really wish I could be there for that.
Seeing so much of Brazil on American TV is also not helping with my homesickness. ESPN aired yesterday a pre-world cup show displaying teams from different nations arriving and setting up, players already hurt due to training sessions. What hit me the most was a specific section of it about Rio, with a singer telling the story about how Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema), from Vinicius de Morais and Tom Jobim, was written.
Apart from being internationally known, this song is a national icon of some sort. It is a popular example of Bossa Nova, a Brazilian musical genre that mixes elements of samba and jazz. It is undeniably one of those songs that transmits the feeling of the waves going up and down on the shore, the summer breeze striking your neck, a glass of beer by the local bar, and, in the good old days, a cigarette on the corner of your lips. The sound of people playing soccer or beach volleyball on the sand. Its the sort of music that mimics the hips of woman strolling down the road, the way her dress jiggles, the man’s laughter while discussing Neymar’s potential with the bartender. It brings in the sunshine that bathes Ipanema daily, bringing that sense of freshness, loving and tender belonging.
Lastly, it’s the type of song my American husband knew by heart and sang it to me last time we went to Rio, six months ago, while strolling down Copacabana on our way to Ipanema. Hearing the song has the power to take me back to that perfect moment we shared and vanished away. The memory remains, in all it’s sweetness. Yes, no song remains the same after a personal experience with it enhances it’s meaning. And, yes, it only reinforces the “saudade” I feel for my home country today.