An Impractical Guide to Lisbon

Lisbon then is at the end of the world, on the edge of it, Lisbon is the fear of toppling over into the abyss of what you do not yet know. Lisbon is the city of dozens of sad poets walking the pavements shiny with the mild rain of the Mediterranean, which never pierces the soul, but makes it ache in dull ways of no clear finality. Lisbon is the clatter of trams, and especially the clatter of trams that were never really there, the clatter of small red trams you imagined to be rushing out of the darkness, only to realize they were the flutter of a bird’s wing. Lisbon is the flight of a seagull over a river that at some obscure point, out of the blue, almost unexplainably, becomes an ocean. Lisbon is a city of old promises, of old journeys on the seven seas, of old hearts seeking new consolations, Lisbon is an old answer to any question you will ever have.

Lisbon is waiting for a cup of dark hot coffee among the echoes of the Latin tongue which slipped farthest away from the core, Lisbon is the clinking of that cup as you place it back on its china plate and head out into the warm fragrant night.  Lisbon is a sea of millions of unfamiliar faces, far away from home, looking for a new home that might be forever, or only half a day. Lisbon is the sun fixed halfway over the Tagus with a foolish certainty that it will always stay there, spreading that hot Southern light beyond any sunset that might ever come. Lisbon is the scent of carnations lingering on as the sound of the heels and the flowy red of the dress fades away. Lisbon is the cold wave hitting your ankles as you wade into the river, looking for all the other rivers you’ve ever walked into, looking for all the rivers that might lead you back into the port of origin. Lisbon is the metallic roar of cars rushing over empty spaces, trying to fill them with their speed and poise, making the future seem like a certain destination instead of the tentative question mark it always is.

Lisbon is a lonely woman sitting outside a bar, unable to decide whether to stay or leave, waiting forever for that sign that will prove that she made the right decision. Lisbon is the wreath of vivid ribbons swaying in the breeze over a square filled with the scents of home made broths and the sea. Lisbon is the point of departure for voyages you never made, will never make, but will always remember. Lisbon is the soft step of a cat turning into an alleyway, looking as if it’s solved all the mysteries of the world, and when you follow it there, you only find a dead end instead. Lisbon is the lines of linen scattering their soapy whiteness over squares covered with the sun burnt petals of bougainvillea. Lisbon then is at the end of the world and every now and then you want to be there too.

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