All family is temporarily gone, with the last member leaving last night and the next arriving tonight. That gives me one morning to take a deep breath, sit in my office (which is also the guest room, which makes work rather interesting), upload my photos, write, and take stock.

Today is a good day to do it, too, as it marks the start of our last month in Europe. It’s been close to six months since the last time we were home, and nearly eleven since we moved out of our house. Even though I know those numbers well, I still can’t believe it’s already been that long. I also can’t believe we have less than three weeks left in our little flat here in Lisbon, of wandering these steep hills and cobblestone streets, of hauling groceries home from the store, of piecing together conversations word by painful word. Again, just as I’m getting ready to leave, I’m getting all sorts of compliments from Portuguese people on how well I speak their language. Sigh.

Gabe’s sister and her husband very kindly took three huge suitcases home for us, and my niece took another one back to London with her, to await our arrival in a few weeks’ time. That means about two-thirds of our possessions are now out of our flat, although you can’t really tell the difference from looking around. (Especially not after I hit up the mid-summer clothing sales with my niece and our teenage Lisboeta fashionista friend yesterday!)

Now, all that remains to get ready for our departure is a final sweep to dump everything into suitcases, a walk through with our landlord, and a few last goodbyes to our friends here. Already I’m feeling nostalgic for the things I’ve taken for granted for so long: the small dog who yaps all day long; the old woman in the flat directly across the back courtyard from us, who hangs out her laundry every day; the sound of the crane down on Avenida as it twirls about its busy day; the taste of fresh fruit for breakfast and queijo fresco for my afternoon snack.

I am not, however, going to miss the sudden heat we’re having, which has swept our long, wet winter out with a vengeance. The past two days have been well up into the 90s, and yesterday hit 104 degrees. We just don’t get heat like that in Santa Cruz, and really don’t know what to do with it.

Yesterday, after bidding my niece goodbye, Gabe and I retreated to the movie theater, sitting through two hours of lame rom com drama just because it was air conditioned. It was a nice break, but when we got home at 7:30 PM, it was still in the 80s, and was already back up there today by 9 AM. Sigh. Guess I’ll be spending my last weeks in Lisbon either at the gym or in Gabe’s office, both of which have A/C and free wi-fi. Way to ensure I don’t miss our adopted home too much!

Bad or good, soon all this will be gone. In a little over a month, I will walk back into our quiet, cool little house by the ocean, and I will sit in its empty rooms and tell it all that has happened to me this year. I will wonder what undergraduate shenanigans it was witness to while we were gone, what dramas and thrills they experienced in our house, and I will unpack our life again, slowly, piece by piece, wondering why we ever needed that much stuff. I will try to restore the garden to some semblance of order before it all dies off for the winter, and Gabe will start teaching again soon thereafter.

But before that all begins, we have a month left here in limbo land, where we belong to neither one place or the other. Luckily, it is so hot I can’t even think straight, which makes it a lot easier for me not to overanalyze our departure!

Here’s some pics from the last few days: on Friday, a trip to the Oceanarium (Europe’s second largest aquarium) with my niece and Gabe’s family, then some other random shots of our half-hearted attempt to give her a tour of very warm Lisbon.

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