It’s morning now and I’m out on my little balcony from my top floor apartment that I’ve called home for this month. This is my last morning in Lisbon and it’s a little chilly. The clouds have not yet parted over the river. They hang low with muted hues and hide the warmth of the sun. The sun she rises anyway, meeting the clouds where they are and then surpassing them.
Last night in my modest home I prepared a table for 5. I’m hosting the friends I’ve made here for dinner. I went to the market earlier and had to use Google Translate because who on earth put the foreigner in charge of grocery shopping?! I get things that look close to what I need, cross my fingers and head on home.
Home. I recruited a friend I met in Cape Town who is also in Lisbon to help with food prep. I promised her the sunset in return for her early arrival, the first of many gifts that the evening would bring. Everyone coming is either pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan (my people!!) and they’ve all apologized for being a burden and I can’t tell them enough how impossible that is.
I’m doing a Thai veggie curry over white rice, and have appetizers of cheese, fruit, and veggies waiting in the living room. And there is wine. There is always wine.
We have the music going in the background and frequent breaks to watch the sky closing in on the night. This is in between chopping veggies and we’re doing formulas that feel like algebra as we guess measurements because there are no measuring cups or spoons in this kitchen. We laugh a lot. And then the night comes.
Night. The playlist is a compilation of all the songs I’ve sampled on these city streets while tucked away in cafes and dimly lit bars and taxi cabs and parties. Some of the lyrics I do not know and some I do, but the melody is sweet and the beat moves me all the same.
With each ring of my doorbell I greet a beautiful person that I would easily and without hesitation wrap my arms around, but instead, per cultural tradition, a kiss on each cheek, smiles and warm welcomes ensue.
The rest of the night can only be caught in the in between…. in between bites of curry veggies, in between passing the garlic naan, in between sips of red wine, in between the bass and the melody…. 5 people, some who have only just met at this table, share life, share laughter, share questions, share jokes, share love, and share the common thread that binds us all together.
To try and sum up our conversation would be to try and sum up a river flowing into the sea, or stars coming alive in the night, or the soft places that feel strangely familiar… they feel like home.
We toasted to me returning in a years time, likely less, and I chuckled this morning to find an invitation in my inbox for dinner, dated for March 2020. After cleaning the kitchen and everyone grocery shopping in my fridge, I said farewell for now. No one left without my warm embrace and the promise of soon. There are miles between us now, but really there is only time. I’m already counting down to our next dinner date. Tchau Lisboa!