Summer Crush

Largo de São Carlos
I love Lisboa. I really do. I think one of the reasons I like Lisboa so much is because I always feel like a tourist in it. Even when I arrive at Lisboa’s International Airport and the plane touches ground I do not have that “Finally home!” feeling. I feel a bit confused and rather lost at arrivals. It is just when the taxi driver says “Where to, Miss?” that I realize I am actually arriving and not passing by. And yet, as the taxi drives along the known streets my eyes wander off and rather than recognizing the familiar buildings, they are caught by surprise by the little changes the city has underwent during my absence. And, in a way, I am marvelled by all of it and get a little bit more in love with Lisboa.
In Summer Lisboa is not itself really, but rather a harbour of curious blonde heads, loud accents, flickering cameras, rubbery flip-flops, really short shorts and really mini mini-skirts that reveal brave, pinkish, sunburnt arms and legs. There are more Indian gentlemen distributing flyers with special lunch discounts on the tandoori-pizza places, ladies selling lace and embroidered towels in front of luxurious clothing stores, and the outdoor café’s chairs and tables are packed with lazying tourists and half empty beer glasses. Lunches and dinners are served late and the postcard racks spin incessantly in touristy hands.

Lisboa is emptied out of Lisboetas and I could not love it more! Not that I do not like Lisboetas, I like them dearly, it is just that, amongst the tourists, I feel I belong. I give myself the chance to look at the city with prejudice-free eyes, I get lost without feeling guilty for not knowing each and every street or asking for directions. And like any other Summer crush, all is new, intense and lovely… it gives me that lingering smile until the end of September, when Autumn settles in and I sober up, with the arrival of fading yellow tainted tree leaves and the smell of roasted chestnuts. And then the Summer crush gives way to my true love – Lisboa in Autumn.

A true Summer crush has to have a soundtrack, if not a complete soundtrack, at least one song – the one song that whenever you listen to, it brings you back to that time, that place and that love. I would have to say, that for this particular Summer crush, the soundtrack is São Carlos’ Square Free Summer Concerts – Great Opera Overtures. Last Friday a friend invited me to join her and listen to Lisboa’s Metropolitan Orchestra play famous opera overtures. Even though I was tired, after a long working week, the moment I arrived at the square and saw the orchestra seats, my heart beat harder, I felt all this new energy being pumped into me.  The square was wonderfully lit in all these shades of old yellows and the buildings closed in on the square, making it look like a concert hall with a huge skylight, from which we could see a timidly starred night. The place was packed with people of all walks of life and ages. We managed to squeeze in between a couple and a young girl of four, seating on the sidewalk, next to the stage. As the first notes of “The Barber of Seville” were played I smiled spontaneously and was invaded by a warm fuzzy feeling. The commentator was graceful and witty and made the evening richer and memorable.

For the first hour or so, I completely forgot about my personal Pessoan curse, and that the multi-faced (bipolar, if you ask me…) poet was born in the building standing right in front of me. From where I was seating, I could barely see the statue erected in his honour, so I momentarily forgot about it. And yes, there is a curse on me by Pessoa. The more I learn about him and this Lisboa that I love, I realize that we have a lot in common. And it seems, that wherever I go, Pessoa’s ghost follows me, haunting me with his presence: the small graffiti on the wall, the coffee cup with his hat, the promotion of his book on a bookshop, the sugar package with his quote, the taxi playing a song based on one of his poems, and the bustling disquiet on Lisboa…  Pessoa is everywhere. And this would not be so bad, if it did not remind me constantly that you are not here and that I miss you.

As the commentator was making his final remarks on the last piece we were going to listen to, he must have sensed that I felt free from my curse, for quite out of context he says “And of course we cannot finish the evening, without paying homage to our neighbour on the 4th floor”. “Of course we can! He is dead, he couldn’t care less”, I grunted… My silly complaints were completely ignored, and the commentator not only recited some verses by Pessoa, but he also made us repeat them, after him… twice.

And right there and then, I had a glimpse of the heartbreak that will follow my Summer crush for Lisboa. However, until then, my heart flutters with the flirtatious happy notes of Rossini.

2 comentários:

  1. Gostei muito, muito!
    Que saudades de Lisboa...!

  2. Billy,

    thanks a lot for your comment, it means a lot comming from a award-winnnig blogger and true Lisboan!