The main thing I have learned ever since going back to work is to disconnect and mentally detox over the weekends. It helps that I don’t have a social circle to speak of at the moment, which suits my hermit soul just fine – for now. The intensity at work during the week is something I needed to adjust to, and bring myeself to heel during the two days off. Saturday mornings are not for sleeping in late, because I need to get to the washing machine before the rest of the household does. That way, my clothes can dry the entire day, and I don’t have to worry about them anymore. Ah but Sundays are my special day for sleeping in, and I treasure it more than you will ever know. So when the child upstairs starts running at full speed at 7:30am and stomping around as if he were ten elephants personified, I am ready to strangle someone and throw them into the river! I only get one day a week to sleep in, and when this is robbed from me, it hurts.
I’ve pretty much come to terms with this shared living arrangement that I have at the moment. The people I have met thus far have fascinating stories, and in some cases, my sudden decision to pack my bags and move to Portugal seems pretty tame compared to the others. But on the whole, I am definitely too old for sharing my space with anyone now. I crave for mornings when I can get up and know I have the place to myself, and no competition for the bathroom or the stove. It sounds selfish, but that elusive feeling of waking up in your own bed, is a very real goal at the moment. I am tired, so tired, of being forced into a space that isn’t mine, or one that I cannot or will not claim.
I wrote the other day about incorporating dolce far niente into my routine, and so far it is working beautifully. The art of doing nothing other than calming down and recharging is not something that comes naturally to me, the FrogDiva who is used to being a whirlwind multitasker. I don’t know whether it is an age-related thing, or maybe part of re-integrating into the worklife again, but either way, it is a steep learning curve and I would like to believe that the Portuguese tempo is rubbing off on me – in the best of ways. Instead of doing five things at the same time that were on my to-do list, I am sitting here in a sunlit kitchen listening to the bubbling of my vegetarian rice and writing. I’m not even hungry, but I need to prep my lunches that I take to work, so I figured I might as well get some writing in as well.
It is the first day of May, and ordinarily it is not a date I pay particular attention to anymore. If I were back in the Philippines I know that the parishes would be gearing up for the Flores de Mayo processions, and the religious concept of this being Mary’s month would be coming from all sides. For me it is more of a personal emergence month, the the month wherein I establish my presence in Lisbon a little deeper and come out of my cocoon. I still have to find a permanent home, but that will happen when it does, by some grace. But building up a social life that has purpose and perspective is something that won’t happen on its own. Time to grab the bull by the horns.
The Portuguese sense of time is on a completely different dimension compared to Germany, except when it comes to the trains. Those are about the only thing that stick to a schedule, for the most part. The buses more or less wing it and as long as they are within four to six minutes of the scheduled arrival time, then they are still considered to be on time. There have been many times when I thought I had stepped through a time travel portal and landed back in India or the Philippines. There is no such thing as five minutes here, that actually conforms to realtime – the Portuguese five minutes can take up to an hour, by which time, nobody will really bother to get mad anymore. Tranquilo at its best. Then there is another favourite of mine – I’ll be there in 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter whether it is a friend who is meeting you somewhere, an Uber driver, a delivery person, your are wating your turn to be assisted, or someone is running late for a meeting. Like the five minutes, the arrival within 15 minutes is to be taken with a grain of salt… well, make that a cup of salt, and never take the tardiness personally. Tranquilo. It is the Portuguese way, and no harm is meant. I absolutely love it, especially after years of running after German timetables and deadlines!
Do any of you remember the 2011 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? My all-time favourite quote from that movie, and a very good motto to live by is
“Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end.”
– Deborah Moggach