My birthday celebration (slightly early) with our Lisboan friends is this evening, and inevitably, I was so excited that I couldn’t fall asleep last night. I may be turning 30, but I’m still ten years old when it comes to much-anticipated events: can’t sleep a wink. Sigh. Of course the warm night and the loudly barking dog outside our window didn’t help matters much, but still. Some things do not change with age, although I am still holding out hope that this one will, eventually.

For said celebrations, we’re planning on meeting some friends at the mirador, having some wine and snacks, enjoying the sunset, and then perhaps going on to dinner or whatever later on. Last night, Gabe and I did a practice run, just to make sure everything would run smoothly, of course.

It was a gorgeous evening, warm and still, the kind of night we’ve waited all year to have. We don’t get nights like that in foggy Santa Cruz, which does make for easier sleeping conditions, but also means that taking a walk at 8 PM without a sweater of any kind is still a total novelty.

As we were standing in line at the wine bar, we noticed a familiar face in front of us: our landlord. Just a month or so ago, we ran into him in a similar situation, when he was in front of us in line at the movies. We must stop meeting like this!

With his typical hospitality, he greeted us and immediately asked what we wanted to drink. So we stood by the kiosk, drinking our wine with him and one of his sons, whom we’d met a couple times while in the process of renting the flat last autumn.

They are truly funny guys, far more British than Portuguese, with a slight twinge to their accent, a certain taste in their wardrobes, and of course that wry, sly sense of humor. They also know everyone under the sun, including the DJ, the guys who owned the wine bar, and someone in Sweden that they told us would provide us with a list of insider’s tips for our visit next week. They are the definition of well-connected, and it’s easy to see why, with their easy good looks, quickly generous nature, and what is clearly a keen familial business sense. Funny guys, all around, and unexpected yet good company for our Friday night glass of wine at the mirador.

We finished our wine and continued on down through the town, encountering many tourists and a regional food and craft fair set up in the Rossio square. Once the Inquisition burned people in that same square, but now you can go there to listen to Portuguese folk music and buy cheeses from the Serra da Estrela or tastes of ginjinha, strong sickly-sweet cherry liqueur sold in little chocolate cups. How things change.

Tonight, we will repeat the first part of this experience with the small but lovely group of people we’ve come to call our friends here in Lisbon. Community, like comfort level, is something that grows so gradually that you don’t even realize it’s there. Then you look around, and suddenly, you know people. You run into your landlord and have drinks with them, you greet your neighbor in the street and ask about their grandson, you bemoan the warm weather with the local shop owner, and you celebrate your birthday with people you have come to value and love.

When the nights are warm, the wine is cool, and the company is good — life is sweet indeed.