“Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
In March our flight back to Porto, Portugal was canceled. Over the last year I’ve been reminding myself less is more, and it was time to simplify my life. The pandemic made some decisions easier for me. Like giving up our apartment in Porto. We’re moving out remotely with the help of a friend. When we can get our things is uncertain.
Leaving behind places, possessions and friends over and over again hasn’t been easy. Even though I find a piece of myself in every place I live, I also pay the price of leaving a piece of myself behind whenever I leave.
There were other reasons Cradoc and I chose to give up our life in Porto. The winters were darker, colder and windier than we expected. For one winter we toughed it out, but with no heat in an uninsulated apartment building we huddled near the space heaters, while the single-paned windows rattled day and night. One time as Cradoc put the food into the refrigerator he said, “Why am I bothering? The kitchen is colder than the frig.”
As an expat, living in Spain, and recently in Portugal, I often felt like I was on the outside looking in. I tried to grow and blossom wherever I was planted, but that was different than feeling rooted and connected to a place.
I watched other ex-pats learn Portuguese, renovate their homes, and talk as if they planned to stay there forever, while I silently knew after our winter of discontent that Porto would never be our forever place. A weariness seeped into my soul. “You can’t keep living like this,” it said.
I asked myself what needs weren’t being met? I needed to live in a quiet place with easy access to hiking. A place where I was on the inside looking out, able to see how to be of service and contribute to a community. I needed ease, joy and support and a gentle place to land. I needed long drives on open roads with a big sky, and sunny winters and gentle summers.
For now, I’ve found everything I need. Winters in Tucson, Arizona. And summers in the Pacific Northwest. I’ll miss many things about living in Portugal. But it was time to do something else.