Beautiful, Rustic, Infuriating

Church bells woke me this morning. Three twin tones rolled in, followed by seven tidy chimes. 7.45 at the Basilica down the street.

Last night, in a desperate attempt to block out the streetlight directly outside our new apartment, I taped aluminium foil over all the windows.

It worked, but I’m sure the neighbours think we’re cooking something fishier than bacalhau.

Leaving the building for our morning walk, my fingers passed through the latticed iron grate in the door. The grate is open, you see, to let the air in. In this town, doors are for decorating, not insulating.

Lisbon is a beautiful, rustic, infuriating city. It has magical golden light and the kind of living damp that lurks in fairytale forests. A current of sly joy runs down certain streets in rivulets, pooling just where you’ll step in it.

After months of limbo and a weekend full of moving-house antics, I’m grateful to be in such a city. There have been days recently where it made me want to scream, but today, settling, I felt only comfort.

The warmth on my shoulder as March peeped over the buildings, the murmur of the grandmas on neighbourhood watch out every other window, the blue, blue sky — it made me remember what I loved so much about it when I moved here all those years ago.

It’s my last year in Lisbon, and I want to spend each moment loving it, because love is where all the best things happen. The best connections, the best writing, the best life.

I’m not talking about the kissy-kissy, stars-in-your-eyes kind of love. I’m talking about the immovable, unchangeable, deep-as–the-earth kind of love.

The kind of love that sustains us, that lashes us to one another, that washes clean the most painful of wounds.

Lisbon is about that transcendent kind of love for me. I hope you’ll get to feel it one day, and that it will feed you like it has fed me.