So I recently visited Lisbon for a couple of weeks. I am fortunate enough to have myself quite different trips when I venture abroad, I am not one to stay in resorts surrounded by more tourists than natives, I like to experience the life and culture of a place first hand. I have a good friend from Lisbon, who I took the opportunity to visit and spend some time with, whilst getting the guided tour from a guy that has lived in Lisbon since a kid.
I spent a few occasions sitting in parks, as Tiago went about daily life, and as I sat contemplating life and where I am at in terms of career progression and happiness, I wrote down my feelings. Being away from home has a habit of opening your eyes and revealing the areas which need to be worked on and improved.
8th July 2011 – Searching for a decent cup of tea has become a mission for me. Tiago leaves me in Belém for a couple of hours as he meets a friend.
Sat in Starbucks in Belém, Lisbon. I craved a proper cup of tea, nothing fancy, just tea! Starbucks no worse than to carry this out for me.
I’m wishing I could speak Portuguese though, or even Spanish. I know the odd word, but for some reason feel a fraud when I say them, so mumble under my breath with little conviction, another on my list of things to do before I hit 40 learn a language competently. I figured it’s a choice between Spanish, French, Mandarin or Portuguese (apparently the 5th most spoken language).
First I need to learn to drive. I also need to buy a decent camera set up. Feel there’s a lot of saving and budgeting gonna have to happen here.
Lisbon, since I am here, on the other hand pleases me greatly. I’d like to think that this is what all of Portugal is like, but sadly those Brits who crave sea, sun and sand have ruined that ideal. I think I may actually be a city lover, I love the history, culture, architecture, art, transport, food, people. Sitting on a beach surrounded by other tourists doesn’t give you any of these things.
I do like landscapes, Iceland being the biggest example. But to have something as awe-inspiring as that comes with a price – you have to sacrifice endless footfall and consequent income and opt for the unspoilt beauty of almost inaccessible places.
It remains then that I prefer to see the places outside my own world with a native host, off the beaten track and able to learn about the place I am staying in. I love to travel, it’s possibly the biggest love in my life, but this has it’s drawbacks, getting a decent cup of tea is a hard task!
8th July 2011 – Following a stroll around the area, I sit down for a spot of relaxing.
I’m now sitting in the park. It’s warm, sunny, a little breezy and I’m reading the paper.
I quite like this appease from constant walking, conversations I can’t be part of and taking it all in, in one overwhelming history lesson. Time by myself.
I’m carrying out a personal project about isolation and loneliness. There’s a large part of me that likes time alone. Maybe it’s the people around me who have little in common, or few aspirations like mine. It stifles conversation and I become bored and apathetic towards them. It’s not their fault, I’m just happier when I’m knee deep in discussions about subjects I like and reckon myself almost expert on.
My host, Tiago and I met over a love of music, especially live music. When he lived in Leeds I loved his desire for adventure and learning, his creative ambition. This formed a great friendship and consequently my request to visit him and his native Portugal when he returned home. We’re also attending a music festival. I’m intrigued at seeing music performed outside the UK. I once saw a show in Prague, but I guess it’s not quite the same.
Currently he’s with a friend seeing a band he likes, whilst I sit pondering in the park for the next 2 hours. I’m enjoying the freedom to sit, read, chill and gather my thoughts.
I feel I should do this more often. In fact, this could well bs the starting point for my project.
12th July 2011 – The moment that changed my future
Today I am siting in a park, Quintas das Conchas to be precise. There are hundreds of kids in bright coloured uniform t-shirts partaking in some group activity, along with couples taking a stroll, and others simply sitting reading – myself included. It’s not peaceful in the quiet sense, but it’s nice to see such activity and great use of open space within the city.
It therefore makes me sad that my local park is home just to youths, namely of the student variety, drinking, burning holes in the grass with disposable bbq’s and generally being rowdy at the expense of everyone else (or to be honest everyone else is doing the same).
Sometimes when you leave the comfort of home and witness how life is conducted outside those cosy parameters it makes you stop and re-evaluate how you’re living and if change isn’t a medicine best prescribed.
It’s certainly making me want to move on, tired of living surrounded by an increasingly young and juvenile population, and wanting to embrace my desires in my own age group. A quiet life addressing the things that are important. Community being the biggest one, I feel that this is the biggest thing missing in my life and I regret not settling in a place I can find this.
I feel at odds with my desires in life and my needs to fit in. And if I am to choose the former I’m risking becoming more isolated than I already am. As a consequence these are decisions I need to focus on and try to find solutions. I don’t think I can make do with peripheral friendship and ‘bum’ job I’m not happy in. My quest is to find a park I can sit in at home and be part of that community, I realise I am not going to find it in my current hometown, and the decision to move on will commence following my graduation. I’m seeking the journey to a happier and fulfilling existence, not one of circumstance.