We are definitely entering into winter here in Lisbon. This morning dawned clear and cold, and the last few days have required jackets outside and sweatshirts and socks in the house. The sun rises late and sets early, and all I want to do is sleep, eat, and read. Yep, must be fall.

It’s kind of a nice change, as I really wouldn’t believe it was a week away from Thanksgiving if there wasn’t at least a little chilly fall weather and some falling leaves in there. It’s not too cold though — just a perfect autumnal edge to the air. If we’d gone to Ireland, which was our other option for this year, I would’ve been severely unhappy by now. But at this rate, I have a feeling that we’ll find even California cold when we get back next month!

With the weather making it more conducive to staying inside, it’s much easier to spend the day working at home, which is what we both did yesterday. We took an afternoon break for a trip to the gym and to restock on fruit, but otherwise, it was a day of productivity. Gabe spent the late afternoon and early evening on the phone, making various business calls to the States — I swear that Skype phone was the best thing he did for our sabbatical! — while I sat on the couch, working and studying, perfectly content with the world.

This morning, as I was back on the couch, reading industry news and drinking my coffee, it occurred to me: I love what I do. I love working with books and words, I love reading about books and talking to people who love books as much as I do… I love it. Even if my daily activities have nothing to do with literature per se, but rather with laboriously teaching myself website code and making my brain explode in the process, it’s OK, because it’s all in the name of books. Besides, with my mom as my main (and so far only) client during our year abroad, it gives me an excuse to email her a hundred times a day, so it helps us stay connected despite the distance. What could be better?

People often wonder how I went from studying history to what I do now, and I usually have to admit that I’m not really sure of the connection myself. But in an interview with the LA Times last week, Colum McCann (who just won the NBA Award) expressed it far better than I ever could:

“In a certain way, novelists become unacknowledged historians, because we talk about small, tiny, little anonymous moments that won’t necessarily make it into the history books… I think we need stories, and we need to tell the stories over and over and over not only to remind us, but to be able to have that clarity of experience that changes us, so that we know who we are now because of who we have been at some other time.”

That is exactly why I read, and why I write here — to tell myself the stories of this year so that I can look back and have that clarity of experience of which he speaks, to remember who I was when I first got here and was so overwhelmed by all the strangeness and shabbiness that I broke down crying. That in turn helps me know who I am now and how far I’ve come in just two short months, because my story gives me something to measure my progress against.

So in the end, history and writing do share a purpose, and what I spend my life doing now does have its roots in what I studied five years ago. Who woulda thunk it?!

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