In the end, I settled on a compromise day. I packed a little bit, I went to the gym, and I read, of course, which is my default activity for any spare time I can find. I even treated myself to a brand new novel by one of my favorite authors, as I knew that I will be hard pressed to find the time to read it in the months to come.

Last night, we met up with the older sister of a high school friend of mine, who happened to be visiting Lisbon for a few days with her boyfriend. I hadn’t seen this girl in ages, so my mental image of her was still the one I formed in high school: the cool older sister, already in college, incredibly sophisticated and grown-up.

She is still both of things, but it’s amazing how age differences seem so much smaller as you get older. Back then, she seemed to be lightyears ahead of us kids, and now she seems like a peer. I’m glad for it, too, as I always really liked her but never felt like I was cool enough to actually be her friend. Now I think I might nearly be there. Almost.

We went down to met them at their hotel, which turned out to be only about ten minutes’ walk away from our house. She gave me a big hug, and after our initial greetings and introductions, she said, “I can’t believe you’ve been living here for a year!” Hearing her say that made me realize: I can’t quite believe it either.

I was just looking back at my journal entries from last July, written while we were in the thick of packing and preparing for our move, and I am astounded to think that we did it.  We really did it. We rented out our house, packed up our lives, and moved to a different country, one I’d never been to before and had no clue as to how to speak the language or negotiate the culture. Now that our big adventure is nearly at an end, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment, especially when seen through someone else’s eyes, someone to whom this place still seems exotic and very foreign. To us, it has become home.

I do find it funny though that we spent more than nine months here with almost no visitors, and now have had more company and friends in town in the last month than we know what to do with. It’s a good thing we are leaving next week, or else we might start to get lonely!