Every person who truly knows me believes that I was born in the wrong century. They call me "an old soul" because I'm a collector, attracted to books, antiques, vinyl records and anything from the 80's. But they also think I am unique in other ways. I believe it is because of the meaningful connections to my two languages and two cultures.

When we moved into our first American house, I was excited to decorate my new room. The first thing I knew I needed was a place to organize my most cherished possessions I have collected throughout my life. I searched and finally found a bookshelf with twenty-five thick sections that I could build and organize alphabetically. Now the titanium white paint is starting to peel off from all the years it's been used, but that only makes it more endearing to me. Each shelf holds important objects from different parts of my life.

The top row has my books in Portuguese that I brought from Brazil. They were passed down to me by my great-grandma when she died. Most of them are old poetry books and have handwritten notes from her. Some of the pages are falling apart, but the books mean a lot to me. I start to feel heavyhearted as I remember my great-grandma sitting up in her hospital bed, reading her favorite poem to me, even though she was ill. She was the person who planted the love of reading in me. I live by the values she taught me and the biggest section in my collection of books to date is of poetry, both in English and Portuguese.

These books are a strong connection to my Brazilian heritage. They also remind me of the time when I was growing up in Brazil, as a member of a large Italian-Brazilian family. We used every excuse to get together and we ate a lot. This is the toughest part of living in another country. Over the years, I had to learn to deal with not being present with my family all the time. And I learned how valuable the time is when we do get together once or twice a year.

The second and third row has books that I used to learn English. It has some of my "classics", like the whole Harry Potter collection. These books have folded pages, handwritten vocabulary definitions and translations in the margins. It brings back great memories from our old apartment in São Paulo, where my older sister read them to me as a bedtime story. I also see books like The Boston Tea Party and Alexander Hamilton, that I read in order to better understand the history of my new country. It was not easy to leave everything behind and move with my family to the US. It was not easy to enter a new school in a new language. But I persevered and when I look back now, I never felt so comfortable in a place like I feel now. This section of my bookshelf reminds me of an important part of my journey.

At the bottom of the bookshelf, I have some of my most beloved items. The 1937 Remington typewriter was a gift from my grandfather and is my favorite piece. He gave it to me as I was leaving for the United States. I love the noise it makes when I am typing a letter. I wonder how many countless letters have been written with this typewriter. I use it for special occasions, sometimes writing in Portuguese to my family or in English to my friends. As I grab my favorite Elvis vinyl to play, I can only wonder about the next chapter of my life. I look forward to adding new books, new friends, and a wide variety of experiences to my bookshelf.