I’ve wanted to visit Portugal ever since I’ve read Jose Saramago’s “The Year of Death of Ricardo Reis”. That was about eight or nine years ago or so. His descriptions of Lisbon were enchanting. Then, of course, no memories last forever, Saramago’s descriptions faded away and gave room for expectations, assumptions and almost naïve romantic image of Lisbon, of Porto, of Portugal.
I guess it started with just the idea of going there. An idea that didn’t require actually buying tickets and going. Thinking about going was enough and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Then, slowly, it turned into an idea that actually required doing something, that actually involved getting on a plane and landing in Lisbon. Perhaps because by then I got tired of pointlessly treasuring the banal and short-sighted notion that it’s the thought that counts. It doesn’t. Too many wouldn’t-it-be-nice-ifs, not enough immediate action. But as cool as this shift in thinking was, there still remained the issues of finding time or money. First, there wasn’t enough of the former, then of the latter. Eventually, the idea of Lisbon became more about fulfilling dreams than Lisbon itself, that’s the natural process of idea inflation, I guess. And then the expectations disappeared. Perhaps, because eight or nine years of build-up would inevitably ruin even the best of places; maybe because I’ve seen plenty of other European cities and failed to be impressed. I’m turning 30 next week, and it only feels right to spend that week in Lisbon, a quiet week without any expectations, open to whatever Portugal throws in my way, spending the time with friends who have known me for so long it’s scary. The wait has been long enough, I think.