Last night was my last night in Lisbon. For this vacation anyway. Like so many nights when I did live there, I took myself to dinner, chose a little table in the corner at my favorite Indian restaurant, and ate very slowly while listening to the cornocopia of conversations going on in the room.
Lisbon is such a strange town for me, on so many levels. I’ve never fit in because I’m a Luso-American, born into a Portuguese family in New Jersey. Though I tried for years to act the part, saying good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to every old person in my neighborhood. I guess I hoped they’d start to see me as one of them. But they never did and now more then ever, they still don’t.
But one thing has changed. My desire to gain their approval. I stopped giving a shit and realized who I am as a Portuguese person, does not depend on their judgement. Beyond that, I’ve come to realize, regardless of the little money and property I actually own, class and education seperate me from these people. They look at me, they hear my accent, they observe my strangely polite mannerisms, and they decide that I’m somehow wealthy. Or maybe, I look at them and I realize that somehow I exist in some completely seperate privledged class.
Maybe its none of these. Rather- it goes back to my own insecurities. Whatever the cause, I still love the old neighborhood in Lisbon. Lots of things have changed of course, since my days working there. I do so miss the group of friends from those days, I miss the little restaurants and pubs that have since changed name and ownership. But still, there are things that never change in wonderous Lisbon, and people who I love that are still there. Those are the people and things I will forever come back to visit.