In the summer, I visited my friend Agnes, who was staying with Jose in Aldeias. This was the view from the window of that lovely room where I stayed. That was one of the weirdest times of my life. I would usually welcome a wonderful vacation. But the first few weeks of that summer made me very anxious. I haven’t had a summer break since after I graduated from university four years ago. Thinking about not working or not being productive while I stayed in Europe instead of going home sounded ridiculous. One week into summer and I was antsy. We were half way through the program and I had to think fast what I wanted to happen, or what I wanted to do. Thinking did nothing for me other than make me even more anxious. Even more, I had very few friends in Lisbon, most of them were somewhere in another part of Europe for the holidays or they were working a lot.
Before the summer, I promised Agnes that I would visit her in the North. So one day, I did. I stayed with her and Jose at his family house. It was made of stone. Surrounded by beautiful light and the warmth of family. It was a quiet neighbourhood but the time I was there was the season for festivities. Jose told us that every village in the valley had a party on the weekend. And we chanced upon a dance festival when we had arrived.
It was a special time of the summer. The people who danced were from all ages. There were children, men, women, young, old, and all doing different things. I wish I had known more about it. But one of the dances we watched was that of courtship. It was amazing to see people take part in the community festivities. It reminded me a lot about the festivities we have back home. It was great to see everyone doing something that directly connects them to the past. It’s something they share with the people who came years before them although they never danced on the same square, or wore the same clothes, or lived in the same lifetime.
I spent a weekend in Aldeias. We swam in a tiny river where Jose used to swim as a child. Agnes and I practiced our Portuguese during lunch when we spoke to Jose’s parents and Auntie. And we took long walks, in the bright, empty summer streets and sometimes all was silent.
I watched Jose and Agnes dance. And it was something. That weekend was a real rest. Sometimes, the most difficult thing is to be slow and even tougher, to be still. It can drive you mad as it did me those first few weeks of summer. I went back to the city and immediately sought the help of a doctor about my anxiety. It turned out to be something more like talking to a friend. Someone reminds you that it’s okay to panic about the future, to feel homesick and at the same time, to not have the desire to come back home. It’s almost like I’m a lobster, at the early stages of strengthening this new shell I just grew. Too big to fit in the old hard shell, but with a new shell, still too soft to venture in the unknown.
I came into this new adventure of DocNomads not really recognising that I could change so drastically in a span of a few months. And more so, that sometimes, we change even before we are ready for it. I was so sure then that home is a place, but now, I think it actually is, where ever we are.