Dear Lisbon

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Querida Lisboa,

For years you were a mystery. For a while you were exciting, soon routinely, quickly approaching boring. Now, you feel like history.

There is not one day I don’t think of you, reflected in my rollercoaster of emotions that shapes various ‘yous’ in a myriad of shades, styles and sizes as if you were made by design. Awfully designed at times but so brilliantly painted others.

I know it was me who left you. I still stand by my decision. It was not you, it’s me, you cannot offer me everything I want. Or everything I think I want, when some days all I probably need is standing on top of one of your hills, looking down at the river seeing you turn gold in the light that is so characteristically yours. No other shines like you. 

Que Saudade!

Saudade, the word you invented. The feeling our country created none other can feel quite the same. A deep feeling of nostalgia and longing. Is this why you make me feel this way? Something you created for your own good, so that, when away, all will miss you terribly? The word ‘miss’ doesn’t even begin to cover it, tenho saudades.

It is quite hard to distinguish if it is truly you who I miss or the ones I love who live within you. It’s an interesting idea to contemplate but I am no fool thinking of you just as a container of things I love. You are not a vessel, you are the link that connects us all, an immaterial entity, with will, strength and temper that aligns paths in your steep, narrow and crooked cobbled streets. The streets you specifically designed so that the adventurous person on high heels has a better chance of twisting an ankle rather than having an intact pair of stilettos when arriving at the restaurant. Still have not forgiven you for that.

I miss the riverbank. I miss the people, the shouting neighbours, the can-do attitude and the tanned look on everyone’s face all year round (because we have this thing called the Sun – take note, London). I miss the colours of your buildings, getting lost on your tiny streets, knowing parts of you better than the back of my hands. I miss the food! My god, can you cook! Knowing where to go, what to recommend, will I still be able to after being away for so long?

I will miss the new openings, the pop-ups, the exhibitions, the new cool places and you won’t be able to retell it all, will there be time?

I am not seeing you grow, will you be different when I’m back? Will you still feel the same to me?

Yes, I do love London now. But probably one day the lust will fade, I will never stop loving you, you will always be my first love. Can you not love more than one?

This is probably not what you want to hear right now, but I won’t apologize because of how I feel. You certainly love more than one, you cannot expect me to be monogamous in this way.

This is what you sound like in my head at times, but I know you always welcome me back with open arms and a flowing river, no matter what. The anger might be one-sided, I am sorry. Maybe I am mad at myself for ever leaving, but I had to and I don’t know when I am coming back.

That is what hurts the most, the uncertainty of not knowing when am I going to see you again.

You used to be one flight away, now it feels all strings attached are slowly being cut.

I can only hope we will meet soon, as my lungs cannot wait to breathe you in, deeply.

With all my love,

Mariana

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