When it’s Time to Scoot, Scoot!
no, this is not about scooters, but look at that sweet smallframe Vespa...
This is my last post about Porto for a while as I spontaneously but not really because it's been brewing for a bit up and left on Monday to return to Setúbal.
I'd planned to stay in Porto through the end of May, my rent was paid, my dog was with me, and my plant babies back home were being cared for by two good friends. I didn't need to come home, but I wanted to. I really wanted to be home.
There were many things I still wanted to do and discover (and eat), and people I want to meet up with in Porto, so deciding to leave took me a few days. Despite those things, and the internal you must stick this out because you committed to it story (see my newsletter from April 29, Return, Rest, Reset for more on this topic), I cut my losses and prioritized my well-being.
Things I Learned
My Porto experiment served many purposes, chiefly to determine if I it would be a good place to have a pied-à-terre.
My idea was to keep my place in Setúbal, which is in the greater Lisbon region and a completely different climate than Porto, and have a studio or small one-bedroom in that cooler, northern city. I'd have the sunny southern spot in Setúbal and the more diverse and dynamic city of Porto to retreat to when I felt the need for a bit more buzz and drizzle.
Retooling the Idea of a Retreat
I'm not sure what my idea of a retreat looks like, but I now know that I don't need to retreat (for long) from my apartment and city as both are a good fit for me most of the time. My time away served as a reminder of how much I like where I live and the community that’s growing around me (lately, Setúbal has been a magnet for San Diegans).
I know there's no perfect place, but I still like the idea of a dual-location life. I have some ideas about this and am exploring other options, but I'm happy to be home for now.
Living is Not Travel and Vice-Versa
When I hatched the Porto plan, the idea was to stay for two months.
I thought two months would be enough time to feel like a local, get to know the merchants in my area, and meet new people, but it's still a pandemic, folks, and I have a business to run.
So, I ended up sort of living there, but without the necessary elements to make work and other life things effective and comfortable. And yet I was kind of a traveler, but without the positive pressure of a shorter time frame to propel me to do the touristy, travel-y things.
Let's face it, and I've talked about this before: I’m a lousy tourist, and I'm not sure I'm much of a traveler anymore.
I've always considered myself a traveler, but it's funny how these constituents that make up our self-described identity can grow thin and pale until they vanish, or mostly so, and we don't see it or feel it happening until it's almost gone. At least that's how the traveler part of me feels. It's no longer a defining characteristic, and that's okay.
I still embrace slow travel, but that looks different for me now.
It’s Not You, Porto, Really
Had I been in my own place in Porto, no problem, but being in that studio, which would have been fine for a week—minus the other people's hair issue—turned out to be too much for me.
Am I too persnickety? Maybe, but the combination of grey and rainy weather, living in a tiny north-facing studio without a proper place to work, and construction going on across from me did me in. It made me anxious, which in turn made Milo nervous, and that's not a recipe for fun.
So I made the decision to return home early, and it was the right one for me, even though I woke up the next morning and wanted to head to Porto’s Odete Bakery for vegan pain au chocolat. I knew I should have bought some to go…
My apologies to those I didn't see on this trip (and gratitude to those I did)—I will return—I'm not finished with Porto yet!
Hair is weird. And this is the second mention of it in this letter. Check out this essay, My Bizarre Reign as New York’s King of “Virgin Russian Hair” in Narratively (so many great stories!) by Vijai Maheshwari
Sinead O’Connor Remembers Things Differently a thoughtful piece in the New York Times on a misunderstood artist with a voice that defined a generation
Looks like Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, is aiming for a Portuguese passport: My journey to EU citizenship through Portugal’s Golden Visa program
Thank you to Barb, Kim, Jeffrey, Kris, Kevin, Simon, and others who have recently supported me via Buy Me a Coffee—and you can do the same, too. I appreciate your faithful readership, your comments, and your generosity!