The First Full Circle

Who would have thought that I would complete my first full circle in Portugal in such a short time? Well, I just did and in the most unexpected way. I moved rooms again within my current accomodation, and was assigned the first room I had when I arrived in Vila Franca back in March. It was a homecoming of sorts, and wonderful sense of peace washed over me the moment I stepped into the room. Gone is the darkness of the room I just moved out of, with the solitary cell-like window and the wobbly curtain rod that kept falling down. Also gone are my friendly pigeons and the noisy neighbours upstairs who have no regards of volume and personal space. Instead, I have the brightness, colours, and that soul moving view of the marina back, albeit the loud trains that pass right in front of the window. But I will take the trains anytime over the shouting neighbours. Unfortunately, I again have the stomping child upstairs back. Let’s see.

The apartment is full at the moment, and much as I love the room, I look forward to eventually moving to my own place. I’m not in a hurry, and I know that the place I am waiting for will be worth it, but things are beyond my control and there is absolutely no way of speeding things up. This is, after all, Portugal, and time takes on bizarre dimensions sometimes. I can’t move into my new place until the current tenant moves out, which she should have done beginning of June, but her new place isn’t ready yet, so she can’t move either. Domino effect Vila Franca style. But since I was offered a Plan B, I am not worried at all and refuse to get stressed over it. Yup, Portugal has that effect on me.

I was so tired last night that I pottered around a bit too long in my room before I grabbed my things to go take a shower. Horror of horrors, both bathrooms were occupied, and there was a queue! Oh my Lord! An hour later I finally got a crack at the shower, by which time I had fully unpacked and arranged my room, prepared my clothes for the next day, and plotted a few other things. When I emerged from the bathroom this morning, I was still groggy and my brain was already misfiring, to the extent that I marched right up to my old room and tried to open the door. Shit. I quickly realised that this was not my room – luckily before I swung the door open on an unsuspecting sleeping guest! – and backed away in time.

On the other hand, my sneaker phase has officially began and I totally thrilled. I no longer feel as though I’m stomping around in winter loafers during summer, and colour is definitely here to stay. Who knew that a simple pair of sneakers would act as a milestone! That’s the thing though, it isn’t just about the sneakers, it is a conscious choice, a rebellion against heels and the traditional corporate look. This morning when I arrived at the station I saw a woman who looked older than me and was sporting a billowing black linen dress, bright red blazer, funky jewelry, leather backpack, and bright red sneakers ladies and gentlemen!

There are two other little things that cement my full circle. One is a lunch bag. I have never been in a country where so many people of all ages carry lunch bags to school and work, and not just any old bag, but the properly insulated ones to keep food fresh. I resisted for the longest time but finally caved in last week and joined the bandwagon. It is just more elegant to carry a lunch bag around rather than my tupperware in a dinky plastic bag.

Last but not least, one of the regular passengers I see every morning at the station who gets off at the same stop as I do, passed me on the way to the station and greeted me, and again when I took up my usual spot for boarding. That is the beauty of living in a small village, everyone greets each other, even if you don’t know each others’ names. The shopkeeper at the little Nepali minimart will wave at me when I pass by, even if I don’t stop to buy anything. The owner of the shoe shop greeted me enthusiastically while crossing the road – and to think I haven’t bought anything from her! We just had a lively and hilarioius conversation one afternoon. The elderly couple who run the clothing boutique never fail to smile and wave when I trudge home. God I love this country! So yes, I have come full circle, and am about to embark on a new one.

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