December already, and only two weeks til we go home. I would say this year has flown by, but with all that it’s encompassed, that’s not quite true. But it does seems strange that it could somehow be December.

Apparently today is a national holiday here, to commemorate the day that Portugal freed itself from Spanish rule in the 17th century. Given that I took Thursday and Friday off last week for the American holiday, and yesterday I really didn’t do much work, well… why start today?!

Even so, yesterday did resume a semblance of normal life around here. Gabe went in to uni early, leaving me with the flat to myself. Although the chilliness of the day outside made me loathe to leave, I’m learning not to let myself rattle around in here for too long, or else I start getting stir-crazy. So, after doing some non-urgent work in the morning, I layered up and launched myself out into the afternoon, prepared to do battle, er, Christmas shopping.

Or at least I thought I was prepared, until I hit the stores, which were absolutely packed. Apparently even though it was Monday afternoon, a lot of other people had the same idea. I didn’t mind too much as long as I stuck to the smaller boutiques, but the chains were ridiculous. I was hoping to do some shopping for myself as well, but after being confronted with one line for the fitting room (for some reason they always have lines in Europe), I decided against it. It’ll be cheaper to shop at home in two weeks anyway.

So once again, I didn’t actually buy very much, mostly because it’s a lot harder to get excited about buying presents when the exchange rate makes everything almost twice as expensive. I did enjoy the stroll through the cold, clear winter afternoon though, and even decided to take out my earphones to better enjoy the experience. That’s a rare event, as I get overwhelmed much more easily with the cacophony of city sounds all around me. But I guess since I was craving the Christmas shopping experience, the crowds and the noise felt appropriate somehow. I came home after only a couple of hours, more or less empty-handed but very pleased with myself for having held out that long.

Increasingly though, all I can think about is coming home. I’m already in that strange halfway space, neither in one place or the next. It makes it a little harder to focus, but hopefully I’ll manage. As long as we keep having holidays between one country and another, I don’t think it’ll be too much of a problem.

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