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Dear Lisbon, Portugal

I had a lot of reservations before landing at your front doors as a solo traveller. English is not your mother tongue, and I knew very little about you. In fact, all I knew about you were: great sardines, coastal region and somewhere in Portugal. In some odd way, it felt liberating to know nothing yet nerve racking that I knew nothing. My expectations were nonexistent. With my bright green backpack, comfy running shoes and a heavy heart, there was no turning back.

Walking along your uneven mosaic tiled streets it felt like something was missing. I don’t know whether it was the abandoned buildings with new grass sprouting in between the concrete slabs or the empty Moorish castles once adorned with the finest of furnitures. It all felt sad. Fortunately, somehow I found solace amidst the melancholy floating like dense humid air on a summer’s day.  I was forced to sit in the sadness. An experience I never had before. It didn’t feel right at first. I was used to bucking up and not letting sadness phase me. Sadness used to be like an enemy I had to conquer. Not anymore. 

Going to Lisbon taught me that it’s okay to feel sad or angry. Lisbon, you taught me that feeling anything else that’s not happy or positive is as much part of our human experience as joy is. You taught me that just like those little broken tiles, everything comes together in the end somehow. All the cracks and distress between the edges are just earmarks for stories of people’s lives once lived. No tile is perfect. No life is perfect.

The culmination of our imperfect lives is what makes it real

Truth be told, going to Lisbon forced me to sit in the sadness I was feeling long before my trip began. The same sadness I carried across the North Atlantic Ocean with me. I thought that if I kept burying it with work it would eventually fritter away. Boy, was I wrong! It actually grew, and grew over time until everything just couldn’t be soaked in anymore. Sitting at the foot of my hotel bed, I started to weep. Lisbon, you taught me that it’s okay to feel sad for a moment or two or more. It’s okay to feel loss…to feel grief. 

They say that time heals all wounds, but what’s left unsaid is that wounds also leave scars. A tangible reminder of what was lost and what is missing. 

Always, 

K

P.S. This blog post is dedicated to a dear friend. Thank you for being a part of my life, then and for always. 

Though she be but little, she is fierce!” -William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream